Perfect Pellegrini

Manuel Pellegrini’s reign as Manchester City boss has gone, as some thought it wouldn’t do anyway, surprisingly well so far. His team are challenging on all fronts, the fans have taken to him, and there seems to be a real sense of optimism around the club at the moment.

When Pellegrini was appointed manager after title-delivering Roberto Mancini’s departure, a few eyebrows were raised. Admittedly, I was surprised myself. This is a man who failed at Real Madrid and has limited experience managing a ‘top’ side. Adding to that, he’s never managed in England and was a relatively unknown quantity to the vast majority of Manchester City fans. Sceptical views were completely understandable.

It’s probably fair to say us doubters have been proved horrifically wrong so far.

Pellegrini’s Manchester City are playing in a way many felt Mancini’s City never did – with style, a lot more width and just generally a more attacking mentality. Their home form has been incredible, averaging four goals at the Etihad this season I believe. Players such as Samir Nasri and Aleksandar Kolarov, amongst a few others, are thriving in this positively devastating system. Meanwhile, the usual standout performers such as Aguero, Zabaleta and Yaya Toure are reaching new heights and producing arguably the best season of their careers so far.

Pellegrini, although not fully responsible for all recruitment, has added quality in areas and the transition of most of the new additions has been seamless. Players such as Alvaro Negredo, Fernandinho and Jesus Navas have all played a major part in City’s fortunes this season, arguably even more so than many expected they would.

Call me old fashioned, but the way Manuel Pellegrini has handled himself has also been admirable and has undoubtedly adhered him to the City faithful. He’s the definition of cool, calm and collected, and in a job that would come with huge pressures and high expectations, he’s conducted himself extremely well.

Perhaps the focus has been taken off him slightly with David Moyes’ abysmal start as Manchester United manager hitting the headlines, Brendan Rodgers’ Liverpool improving, Arsenal challenging for the title again and the return of Jose Mourinho at Chelsea, but still, Pellegrini is proving his pre-season doubters wrong and taking Manchester City to the next level.

There’s still a way to go yet, but Manuel Pellegrini deserves a lot more credit than he’s getting. Manager of the season so far? Without a doubt.

By Marcus Williams – Newport County fan

Posted by Natter Football

  1. Nice summary of City’s progress. I too have been impressed with MP and think he’s gone quietly about his business. As a Utd fan it pains me to say this but they are the best team in the league this season and MP deserves a huge amount of credit for that.


  2. I will always support coaches like MP for their noble, let’s put it this way, vision for the game. Having said that, people familiar with his work (basically in Villareal, also in Malaga; Madrid is a complicated story…) cannot, in any way, feel surprised by City’ profile on the pitch so far this season. Fluency in their passing game, cohesion, first touch football, combination style, attractive attacking ideas, all these (and others, revealed in Marcus’s piece above) are typical characteristics in MP’ work.

    On the other hand, Pelegrini’s teams are anything but famous regarding their defensive ballance or their consistency and character. Pelegrini is not the Mourinho type “iron man” in the dressing room, he will not inspire the Portuguese’s well known “die hard” fighting spirit, basically he relies on his players’ professionalism; the reason behind that “softness” (in mental as well as in physical terms) in his teams…

    City have dropped too many points in away matches (only currently they seem to be building a stability in that area), which is hard to accept. I’ve watched some of their matches, tactically he seems to be insisting on the 4-4-2 / 4-2-3-1 framework (as he did in Villareal for years), which can be effective; it can also be vulrenable, especially the way he handles his central midfield. Generally opponents will indeed have their chance against them, a “luxury” to play their game, which does not comply with City’s theoretical strength…

    Recently I watched City playing against Liverpool at home. For my expectations, it was a shockingly bad performance, and MP is the only man to blame for his choices:
    1. City clearly lacked energy in that match. I checked his recent line-ups, with the exception of Navas, all 5 players performing in midfield and attacking zone had been playing without a pause fow a while. For example, that meant inability to press, even to a limited extent, like against Liverpool’s central defence, a duo that would panic and give the ball away for fun…
    2. Against Liverpool’s 3-man midfield, Pelegrini fielded heavy and slow Yaya partnering Fernadinho. The Brasilian, as well as the defensive line behind him, were practically exposed throughout the match. I would strongly recommend people interested in tactical matters to watch the match again, or even some extended highlights. Liverpool’s goal and numerous other plays simply exploited open spaces centrally, it was unbelievable. It became even worse combined with what I’ve just mentioned above: physical condition status (and, consequently, insecurity) could not encourage City’s defenders to move forward and close the spaces in front of them (the way they did pretty effectively in the following matches, when MP did rotate). Not to mention, Fernandinho was not the man providing depth in Shachtar’s central midfield, there was another player performing beside him for exactly that purpose…
    3. MP did not respond from the bench until introducing Garcia (his 3rd sub) in 86′, cementing central midfield. And guess what, at that moment it could be considered a dubious move, I mean the irony of the timimg: he did that when Rodgers had already taken Lucas off (his final risk), weakening Liverpool’s midfield zone…

    Overall, MP took a very serious gamble throughout that match, leadind to a hardly convincing victory; and, I’m sorry, but Liverpool cannot possibly be compared to City this season, still they remained ambitious till the final whistle; again, a fact difficult to accept…

    Bottom line: A year ago (I think) I had replied to a piece written in this site regarding Moyes’s era in Everton. I think I was misunderstood by some fans, apparently they felt I was rather harsh on him. So once again I will repeat that I really like the guy (Pelegrini), I honestly share Marcus’s respect and positive feelings regarding his work, as in Moyes’s case. However, analysis and evaluation are completely different tasks. What I’m trying to say, as clearly as I can, is the following: If I was director of football in City (or their owner), I would expect nothing but the title itself. Which, ideally, should be combined by acceptable (a rather lenient expression) campaigns in all other fronts (domestically, in both Cups, as well as abroad, in CL). In my humble opinion, the quality, experience and depth in City’s roster cannot be compared with any of their rivals, in theory City are clearly better than Arsenal, Chelsea etc. It’s a situation practically “dictating” what I feel would only seem normal as a final result. Anything less than the EPL title (for a start) is a failure, period (and take my word for it, MP knows it). In such a -negative- scenario (like finishing 2nd or 3rd), there cannot be any excuse for Manuel Pelegrini…


  3. I don’t think Pellegrini deserves as much credit as you (and those commenting above) give him. I think the signings were made by those above him and any manager including Mancini would’ve thrived with this squad to work with. It’s the best squad in the league, one of the best in Europe and Pellegrini is lucky to have landed the job at all.


  4. He’s my manager of the season so far also. Good piece.


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