Is Pellegrini facing the same problems as Mancini at Manchester City?

Manuel Pellegrini

Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini insists his players are not unhappy with the squad rotating system at the Etihad.

The Chilean’s comments were in response to questions from reporters over his inclusion of England players in his first-team line up ahead of the World Cup this summer.

With the likes of No.1 goalkeeper Joe Hart, defenders Micah Richards and Joleon Lescott, midfielders Jack Rodwell and James Milner chasing a place on the plane to Brazil in June, Pellegrini has dismissed his selection and rotation systems are a problem for his players.

"I don’t think they have any problems. They feel an important part of what we have done so far and they will be important in the future from now until the end of the season," he insisted.

However, Micah Richards is expected to leave the Etihad at the end of the season when his contract enters its final year – due to his injuries in recent years, the 25-year-old has not made an appearance for England since prior to the 2012 European Championships and has been excluded from all squads since Roy Hodgson took charge. He has managed just one start and one other substitute this season for City in the Premier League since returning from a hamstring injury in January.

Joleon Lescott is also expected to leave City in search of first-team football when his contract expires at the end of this season – at 31 years of age this could have been his last chance at a World Cup. He made no less than 9 appearances for England in 2012 and two last year but has yet to feature for his country in 2014. His seven league starts for City this term are unlikely to convince Hodgson he is ready for Brazil.

James Milner had been an integral part of the City team that won the Premier League title under former manager Roberto Mancini in 2011/12 but the midfielder has started just 7 games under Pellegrini in the league this term, of which five were for a full 90 minutes and his tally from last term of four goals and four assists has decreased to just one goal and three assists.

Young Jack Rodwell, now 22-years of age, has made just three appearances for England, two in 2011 before he moved from Everton to Eastlands, and just one in 2013. With the likes of Yaya Toure, David Silva, Javi Garcia, Samir Nasri and Milner in the midfield as well as new signing Fernandinho, Rodwell has been granted just one start in the Premier League this term.

Joe Hart has reclaimed his status as the City and England No.1 after being dropped for his club at the beginning of the season and he is likely to remain the number on choice between the sticks for Hodgson in Brazil but he could very well be the only Manchester City player to appear in an England shirt at World Cup.

England aside, the likes of Alvaro Negredo, Jesus Navas, David Silva, and Javi Garcia will all be hoping to be included in the Spain squad and have a strong shot of achieving that, despite the wealth of quality options available to Vicente del Bosque. Meanwhile, Sergio Aguero and Pablo Zabaleta should have no problems making it into the Argentina squad.

However, this was part of the problem at City under Mancini – players were frustrated at their lack of opportunity. Adam Johnson and Stephen Ireland, most notably, were critical of the rotation system when they left. Having the depth and quality in his squad that Pellegrini does means that the competition for places can drive his team onto success but his battle is always going to be against time which no player is ever going to feel he has enough of in the season before a World Cup.

image: © Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile

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