With the news that Manuel Pellegrini is set to leave Malaga at the end of the season, it seems ever increasingly as though Manchester City have been given the green light to name him as Roberto Mancini’s successor at the Etihad.
With many fans surprised by the Italian’s dismissal after delivering an FA Cup in 2011 and their first Premier League trophy in 2012, the first time they have been champions of England for 44 years, these same fans will be wondering how a man who has failed to win a major trophy in his management career can take City forward.
When Mancini came in for Mark Hughes in the December of 2009 there was a sense that although the sacking of Hughes may have been harsh that the new owners from Abu-Dhabi wanted their own manager and that the appointment of Mancini was logical as this was a man with a track record having won three league titles in a row during his time on charge of Inter Milan.
Mancini came in and did the job many expected, building City so they became more and more competitive year on year, buying players at the height of their ability such as David Silva, Yaya Toure and Sergio Aguero with these players playing key roles in their successes, with Toure scoring the winning goals in the club’s FA Cup Final and semi-final wins in 2011 and Aguero scoring the goal that ended the 44 year wait to be named champions of England again, with Silva being the creative force behind this attacking side who seemed to be a position to sweep all before them.
So how does a man who has not won major trophies take this club forward?
Pellegrini has a great track record in the Champions League, something it has become apparent Mancini seemed unable to assert any authority upon failing to qualify from the group stage at two attempts with Manchester City.
This may be a harsh conclusion with the club in the low seeding pots having not been in the competition for as many years as the other English clubs who regularly qualify such as rivals Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal, although all of them finished below them in the 2011/12 Premier League campaign.
However Pellegrini has shown he is a man capable of taking even the less fancied sides to the latter stages taking Villarreal to the semi-finals in 2006 and Malaga to the quarter-finals this season, with both clubs in their debut season in the competition.
Therefore for those in charge at City this seems to be an ideal candidate as having already claimed the English crown they now see it fit that City challenge and become the driving force in European football as well as on the domestic front.
This will not mean that they will compromise with underachieving in the league but does perhaps show the club’s focus dismissing a manager who throughout his career has achieved domestic success but has struggled on the European front.
Pellegrini has managed at the highest level too, with Real Madrid in the 2009/10 campaign with Madrid finishing 2nd with what would have been a league record points tally of 96 only to be beaten by the 99 of Barcelona.
With Madrid he did underachieve in other competitions being eliminated in the last 16 of the Champions League but was the man responsible for the signing of Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema, Kaka and Xabi Alonso, although the board and president of the club were very influential in these signings Pellegrini was the man responsible for blending them together and creating the team.
Pellegrini only seemed to be replaced at Madrid due to the club’s ability to bring in Jose Mourinho, who seemed to fit the “Galaticos” image and philosophy of the club, the ‘best manager in the world’ for ‘the best club in the world’. In fact the Madrid hierarchy did confess had the opportunity to appoint “The Special One” not arisen the Chilean may have stayed.
With the best players money could buy and having created this team full of superstars in only one year in charge of Madrid it was not really an environment Pellegrini felt confident in with the ‘Galacticos’ ethos of the club and is also perhaps a factor in his departure, not perhaps seeing eye to eye with the off-field politics that go on at a club like Real Madrid.
With Manchester City though the foundations have been laid down by the previous two managers Mark Hughes and Roberto Mancini with both making key signings that were signed with the long-term vision of the club taken into consideration with the likes of Kompany, Tevez and Zabaleta still remaining pivotal since the departure of Hughes and Mancini’s signings obviously still prominent with Aguero, Nastasic and Rodwell young enough to lead City on for many years still.
Pellegrini will be able to work with this infrastructure and take the club on something he has done with each of his clubs including arguably Real who although they have won a title since his departure may not be as stable as they would have been, he could be the man to bring calmness to the club, the opposite to the brash and outspoken nature of the man he seems destined to replace.
This is also a man who conducted the world record transfer fee so is not afraid of spending big but with his current club Malaga in a poor position City could capitalise, especially with Isco, one of the hottest properties in European football and with City in need of another creative force to share Silva’s workload they made need look no further and spend big money elsewhere on the team.
His man managements skills are such that Nacho Monreal, who left Pellegrini’s Malaga side in January to sign for Arsenal, has said that this is the best manager he has ever worked with and has brought the most out of his game, this even includes his time at Arsenal with Arsene Wenger who seems to be the godfather figure of foreign coaches on these shores, being the most successful even if his own success has dried up in recent seasons.
This is a huge endorsement and this could be a man who although does not have the most convincing CV could take Manchester City into a league of their own, especially with their neighbours having lost their almighty manager.