With the departure of Roberto Mancini after three-and-a-half tempestuous yet successful years at the helm of Manchester City, a new era is dawning at Eastlands.
Manuel Pellegrini is widely anticipated to be Mancini’s replacement, and he will come in to a set up which is being moulded towards a more European model by director of football Txiki Begitistain.
Begitistain, with his Barcelona links, and Pellegrini as a former Real Madrid coach will have crossed paths with the two Spanish giants, but what will be important to the City hierarchy is that they will have their own man in who is happy to work with the evolving model.
It is now clear that Mancini wanted full control, and enjoyed the all consuming power which went with the post, but his confrontational style of management was not to everyone’s liking and the rifts which it caused in the squad is one of the reasons put forward for the unsuccessful title defence and poor Champions League showing.
What City have done in hiring Pellegrini is ensure that they have a coach with a pedigree of his own, winning league titles in Ecuador and in Argentina, and most recently guiding Malaga to the quarter finals of the Champions League, only to be deprived of a semi final spot by the two Borussia Dortmund stoppage time goals which saw the Germans through.
They have also ensured that their coach is also their man. He will work with the players with whom he is given, and while having a say so, he will not have the power which Mancini had, or craved.
While City head off on their brief tour of the States to have a couple of friendly games with Europa Cup winners, Chelsea under the stewardship of Brian Kidd, the wheels are in motion for the director of football to start shaping his squad as he sees fit, with maybe a small nod towards the incoming manager and any players he would like to see.
Their main transfer target at present is Shakhtar Donetsk’s Brazilian power house midfielder Fernandinho, who himself wants to come to the Premier League in order to enhance his credentials to represent his country in their home World Cup in 2014. Shakhtar’s valuation of around £42 million for the 28-year-old is seen as a major stumbling block, proving too rich for even City’s near bottomless pockets.
Other big name players to be linked with City include Radamel Falcao, who it is claimed City have already won the race for, Isco, Arjen Robben, Edinson Cavani, Pepe and Marco Reus, to name a mere half dozen. It truly is fantasy football stuff, and a vast contrast to the players which were brought in during last season’s windows.
Maybe Mancini’s moaning has actually been listened to, but it is the public nature of the disharmony which surrounds the club and their transfer dealings which the owners took offence to. Which ever it is, it looks certain that City will be rivalling Chelsea when it comes to splashing out on big name signings in the forthcoming months.
What is also certain is that if there are players coming into the Etihad, then there will be players who will also be looking to leave, with the vast majority of the European and South American players all rumoured to be looking for a move away.
Carlos Tevez inevitably is again high on the list, as seems to be the case every transfer window, but this time it seems that he really could be on the move, with Juventus looking to take advantage of the ever changing situation in the East of Manchester.
Interesting times await the blue half of Manchester as they look to wrestle the title back from their neighbours, and make more of an impact on the European front than has been the case in the previous two seasons.
There is no doubt they have the financial clout, and there is no doubt that they have players willing to come and try their luck, but the managerial change and the shift in the way the club is going to be run will surely dictate whether City are challenging for titles, or whether they are still the noisy neighbours come this time next year.
City fans, what are your predictions and hopes for the summer?
image: © markhillary