On 14th June, it was finally confirmed that Manuel Pellegrini would become the new manager of Premier League runners up Manchester City, with the Chilean penning a three-year contract with the sky blues. Pellegrini had been destined to take over at the Etihad Stadium ever since Roberto Mancini was axed in May and now weeks of anticipation, expectation and lots of frustration from City fans, was finally put to rest.
Pep Guardiola, one of the most intelligent tacticians in the game, is clearly an admirer of Pellegrini, saying in 2011: “He is one of the best coaches in the world.” Now if Guardiola is saying such things about Pellegrini, then surely City are doing something correct in appointing the 59 year-old to succeed Roberto Mancini?
At 59-years of age, it’s evident to see that Pellegrini is a vastly experienced manager, with experience in both playing and managing. Few players are able to transfer what they learn whilst playing the game to the tactics board, but it has been somewhat easy for Pellegrini and he has earned a reputation for being one of the best tactically astute coaches in the game. In addition, he is also considered to develop good, positive relationships with his players; something which will be much needed at City, with reports that there was unrest in the dressing room last season. There will be plenty of difficult tasks for Pellegrini in his time at City, but lifting the dressing room will be one of his first and toughest challenges.
As a player, Pellegrini was a one-club man, spending his entire career with Universidad de Chile, with whom he racked up over 400 appearances. Whilst still in his playing career with Universidad, Pellegrini achieved a degree in engineering in 1979, thus giving him the nickname ‘the engineer’. After hanging up his boots, Pellegrini moved into coaching, his first job being with the club he spent his whole career with, Universidad. Since then, Pellegrini has managed in 3 other countries: Spain, Argentina and Ecuador, and has now taken up the option to test himself in the Premier League; arguably the best league in the world to many.
Virtually everywhere Pellegrini has managed, he has had success and achieved silverware, that is perhaps a main factor as to why City chief’s have chosen him as the man to lead them to further success. With Villarreal, Pellegrini helped the club to reach the Semi finals of the Champions League, being beaten on penalties by Arsenal in 2006 and within one spot-kick away from reaching the final. As well as that, Pellegrini also managed to nip in between Real Madrid and Barcelona in the league, with the Yellow Submarine finishing 2nd behind Real and above Barca. At Real Madrid, Pellegrini found it tough to overhaul Barcelona whose dominance at the time was in full-flight. In his first summer in charge, large amounts of money was spent on players such as Cristiano Ronaldo and Kaka but Madrid still couldn’t manage to achieve any success.
After just a season in charge at the Bernabeu, Pellegrini was sacked, despite achieving Real’s highest points tally in a single season, with ninety-six. There were reports that the players being brought in were not players who were bought by Pellegrini, but by President Florentino Perez. Pellegrini admitted it was difficult to build a successful team at Madrid, saying: “I didn’t have a voice or a vote at Madrid. They sign the best players, but not the best players needed in a certain position. It’s no good having an orchestra with the 10 best guitarists if I don’t have a pianist. Real Madrid have the best guitarists, but if I ask them to play the piano they won’t be able to do it so well. He [Pérez] sold players that I considered important.”
As Jose Mourinho was unveiled as Real’s new manager, there were plenty of new offers and challenges for Pellegrini to consider, one of which was an offer to manage the Mexican national team. Instead Pellegrini headed to Malaga, with whom he guided to 4th place in La Liga in his first full season at La Rosaleda. Pellegrini had built a strong side with the Andalusian outfit, but their progression was hindered by the financial club which Malaga faced. Even the loss of several key players didn’t stop Malaga, last season they were on the verge of a Champions League semi-final until Dortmund struck twice in stoppage time to set up a tie against Madrid. Domestically, it was a satisfying and commendable season for Malaga who finished in sixth position. Once the season had finished, Pellegrini confirmed he was to leave the club in the summer and further confirmation came on Friday as to where his next destination would be.
Ever since City was linked with Pellegrini, I had done a fair bit of research on the man, and the more I did, the more I learnt and the more excited I became. Pellegrini is seen as a manager who thrives on delivering beautiful football, with a tendency to produce young talent. The points aforementioned are exactly what City want, especially with building for a new state of the art academy underway. You could say that City are adopting a Barcelona-like model and Pellegrini’s take on how football should be played fits in with that approach. His teams don’t just play attractive and attacking football, but they are well drilled and incredibly well-disciplined, this has been largely down to Pellegrini’s intelligent management style.
One thing that is apparent to see in Pellegrini is that he prefers to play with a fluent and fluid 4-2-3-1/4-3-3 formation and you would expect him to continue that with City. I’m sure you’ll agree that both systems are relatively similar, so you wouldn’t be surprised to see Pellegrini alternate the formations in which he chooses. Either way, the players he has and the players he could potentially bring in would be able to adapt to both systems fairly easily. For instance, Isco could be play as part of an attacking trio in a 4-2-3-1, but he could also be deployed on the left in a 4-3-3. Whatever system Pellegrini decides to play, there won’t be a change in style of play and his sides will still play the kind of football we all admire and love to watch.
Here are some quotes on what Pellegrini said upon his arrival at City:
“I am delighted to accept this hugely exciting opportunity. The club has a clear vision for success both on and off the pitch and I am committed to making a significant contribution. Everything is in place for Manchester City to continue to be successful and I am excited to be able to work with such a talented squad, the Executive team and the Board to deliver for fans who are renowned for their steadfast support.”
So what can Pellegrini bring to City?
Well for starters, we can be sure that he’ll do his very best to build a team playing good football; that is one of his most important aims. As well as this, Pellegrini has previous history with giving young talent a chance; this can be seen in giving Isco and Santi Cazorla first team action for Villarreal and Malaga respectively. Giving his history of having faith in young talent, you would expect him to work closely with Elite development manager Patrick Vieira and promote players from the reserves to the first team. Off the pitch, Pellegrini is understood to be a very humble and honest man; he certainly comes across that way in his interviews. He conducts himself in a professional and respectable manner; this has been one of the reasons why he has so many admirers in Spain. If Pellegrini can bring some of these things aforementioned, plus a little more, then there is great anticipation that with City, Pellegrini can create something special, but time is against him, so he’ll have to make his mark on the side very quickly.
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