Pellegrini is confident at Manchester City - But is he the 'winner' they need?

Manuel Pellegrini

Newly appointed Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini has insisted City can reclaim the title from archrivals Manchester United next season now that he’s in charge.

The Chilean coach has arrived at the Etihad after spending the last decade in Spain managing La Liga clubs Villarreal, Real Madrid and Malaga. He is highly esteemed both in Spain and Argentina, Ecuador and his native Chile where he managed a number of the top teams on the South American continent.

He has worked with the likes of Kaka, Cristiano Ronaldo, Pepe, Iker Casillas, Sergio Ramos, Diego Forlan, Santi Cazorla, Antonio Valencia, Robert Pires, Guiseppe Rossi, Isco, Martin Demichelis, Esteben Cambiasso, and Ariel Ortgea. He is one of the most experienced practitioners in the modern game.

Therefore, I suppose it should come as little surprise that he fancies his chances with City next term.

“I know that the most important thing for all the fans is to beat Manchester Utd and if I am here it is because I am sure we will do it,” he stated.

“This year, same as other years, Manchester City will be top of Manchester United.”

City surely have the financial power to do it – reclaim the title from United, that is – but there will have to be some consideration of the fact that Pellegrini is new to the Premier League and new to the club, the players and, most likely, will need a little bit of time to settle in and instill his philosophy and import his style.

It’s certainly a bold statement to make and one that, whilst it will be music to the ears of City fans as well as the board, it strikes me as a tad presumptuous and overstated.

Apart from United who, despite Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement, still have a strong squad capable of retaining the title, there is also Chelsea who now have their self-proclaimed ‘special one’ back at Stamford Bridge. It’s by no means going to be plain sailing for Pellegrini who, with remarks like that, may well earn himself a reputation in England as the ‘pompous one’.

Whilst he’s faired well over the years, Pellegrini has never won the Champions League – but did take Villarreal to the semi-finals.

The only title at all that Manuel Pellegrini has won in the last decade is the Intertoto Cup at Villarreal back in 2004 – for a guy who’s not won a league title ever in Europe, he’s mighty sure of himself. Whilst David Moyes will be a newcomer to the Champions League and the Premier League title challenge, Mourinho is by no stretch of the imagination a newcomer.

In fact, even just in the time period since Pellegrini won the Intertoto Cup, Mourinho has won two Premier League titles, an FA Cup and two League Cups with Chelsea, two Serie A titles, two domestic cups and a Champions League with Inter Milan, and the La Liga title, the Copa del Rey and the Supercopa de Espana with Real Madrid.

Pellegrini may well just be doing the rounds giving the press sound bites the fans will like but he’s now going to have to put his money where his mouth is – if he wants to win the Premier League ahead of the Red Devils and the Blues next term, he’s going to need some serious firepower to revitalize Robert Mancini’s frankly lazy and surly first team.

There are deeper problems embedded at the Etihad, in my humble opinion, and I’m not altogether sure just a change of manager is going to be enough to make City genuinely capable of becoming the top team in Manchester over a prolonged period, never mind in Europe.

The huge amounts of money being thrown around will, over time, heap ever-increasing pressure on the new boss – same as the old boss – and, if Pellegrini has his wits about him, he might want to avoid heaping pressure on himself before the season’s even begun. He’s a very very good manager but I’m not so sure he’s the saviour that City really need.

image: © Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile

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