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Sunday, 16 June 2013

Can Manuel Pellegrini succeed at Manchester City?

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Manchester City finally confirmed former Real Madrid and Malaga boss Manuel Pellegrini as Roberto Mancini's successor last week, but can the Chilean coach succeed at the Etihad?

Pellegrini comes to these shores with a superb reputation. Former players, rival managers and pundits all agree that Pellegrini is a wonderful manager, but he doesn't have a glittering haul of honours to back that up. Since arriving in Europe in 2004 with Villarreal, Pellegrini has only claimed the Intertoto Cup. However, that doesn't exactly tell you everything about his heroic achievements in La Liga.

In his first season with Villarreal they finished third and reached the Champions League. The following season they reached the semi-final of Europe's elite competition, only to lose in the semi-final to Arsenal. The following two seasons he led the club to fifth and second place finishes. Not bad at all in a league dominated by Barcelona and Real Madrid. After five years Pellegrini left with a 48 per cent win rate.

In 2009 Pellegrini was lured away from Villarreal by Real Madrid and the Galaticos went crazy in the transfer market. Kaka, Ronaldo, Benzema and Alonso all arrived at the Bernabeu for a combined cost of more than £200 million. However, the Chilean was up against one of the greatest club sides of all time in Barcelona and failed to win a single trophy, even though he did help the club amass it's highest total of points ever - 96 - and had a win percentage of 82 per cent.

Madrid axed Pellegrini after only one season in favour of two-time Champions League winner Jose Mourinho. Pellegrini was disappointed by how things turned out at Madrid. He said: "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. We didn't win the Champions League because we didn't have a squad properly structured to be able to win it."

Pellegrini was a man in demand though and Malaga was his next port of call. In his first full season at the club he led them to fourth place and entry to the Champions League for the first time in the club's history. Despite their much-publicised financial problems, Malaga reached the last eight of the Champions League last season - eventually being knocked out in controversial fashion by Borussia Dortmund.

So, although Pellegrini may not have the medal collection of Jose Mourinho or even Arsene Wenger, the Chilean has performed miracles during his decade in Europe. Manchester City though will provide him with the opportunity to build an extensive trophy cabinet.

City already possess a number of world class players. Yaya Toure, Sergio Aguero, Joe Hart and David Silva instantly spring to mind. Pellegrini will also have unlimited riches to call upon to help him build his title-winning squad. He has already added Shaktar Donetsk's Fernandinho and Seville wide man Jesus Navas and Borussia Dortmund striker Robert Lewandowski is also being linked with the former Premier League champions. 

The 59-year-old has been told by City chiefs to win five trophies in five years, but he admits he is already under pressure to win the Premier League title in his first season - a feat only managed by Chelsea's Jose Mourinho in 2005 and Carlo Ancelotti in 2010.

But after some dire displays last season under Roberto Mancini, Manchester City fans can expect a bit more excitement again under Pellegrini. On entertaining and style, he said: "My teams think more about building than destroying, and I don't like those who prioritise destruction through man-marking and fouling. It bores me, I'd never go to see that kind of football.

"My teams treat the ball as the priority, wth mobility, blending South American football with European. My philosophy is based on having players with a good technical ability, efficient and creative."

Pellegrini wasn't given a fair crack of the whip at Madrid and there was no way he was going to win La Liga with any club other than Madrid or Barca. However, at Manchester City he has an excellent chance of winning silverware, especially this season with the top three clubs all changing managers. He may not win the Premier League title straight away, but I firmly believe that City have made a very astute signing in attracting Pellegrini to the Etihad. 

Calling all Manchester City fans: Are you pleased with the arrival of Pellegrini? Do you think he can get City back in amongst the honours this season or do you still think the owners were wrong in giving Mancini the boot? Whatever your views, we'd love to hear from you.


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Colin Illingworth



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