Following reports from Spain that City have decided not to move for Isco, was that the club's decision or the incoming manager's?
Following Manuel Pellegrini’s departure from Real Madrid in 2010, the Chilean had every right to be proud. Despite finishing his one and only league campaign at the Bernabeu three points behind champions Barcelona, he inspired his team to a club record 96 points.
With a history like that, it is no wonder Manchester City appointed him.
But following that triumphant failure, Pellegrini publicly bemoaned the lack of input he had into the club’s signings, lamenting a policy that saw Galacticos bought over his head; players that managers across Europe would have given anything for, and yet not at the expense of an effective and successful side.
In a sound-bite that English journalists will hope is a prelude for headlines to come, the Chilean said at the time, “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 wouldn’t be able to do it so well.”
In short, he wanted to sign his own men. And he wasn’t able to.
Fast-forward three years and he is all-but-confirmed as the manager of City. And talk is – or at least was – of a move for Malaga’s supremely gifted midfielder Isco.
The player himself has only recently called Pellegrini his “footballing father”.
In fact the 21-year-old went so far as to issue a not-so-thinly-veiled come-and-get-me plea when he said, “He’s been my footballing father and I know that he likes me. Of course I’d like to continue with him.”
So what are we to make of the news from Spain that City have decided not to move for the player? Not that Pellegrini has decided against it, but that the club has – more specifically chief executive Ferran Soriano and sporting director Txiki Begiristain?
Is this not the sign of a manager being usurped even before he has his feet under the table?
The City hierarchy may have felt that the club had enough talent in similar positions to those that Isco occupies, but they are not Pellegrini’s players, not his choices.
Of course the reports could prove to be false. Perhaps both Jesus Navas and Isco will ultimately arrive at the Etihad. But should the latter find himself at Real Madrid rather than City, how will Pellegrini feel having already experienced a club where the manager’s decision was anything but final?
Am I reading too much into what for now is only rumour? Almost certainly. And yet City fans must hope their incoming manager is allowed to make the final choices, even if some within the club don’t always agree with him.
They have got themselves a very good manager indeed. Now all they have to do is allow him to manage.