Progression under Pellegrini: Tracking the Chilean's debut in England
Many Manchester City fans would argue that finishing the season with only the Capital One Cup simply isn’t enough. When Manuel Pellegrini took over as manager of the club at the start of the season, he too could have been forgiven for thinking the same.
Things had turned sour towards the end of the last campaign for Pellegrini’s predecessor, Roberto Mancini. Following a trophy-less season at The Etihad Stadium and rumours of unrest behind the scenes, it was time for change.
Having previously managed in Spain, Argentina and his home country of Chile, the 60 year old has imposed a style of play rarely seen on English shores. While Mancini’s tactics were ‘typically Italian’ and built on a solid defence, Pellegrini’s approach is quite the opposite. Manchester City have already scored a staggering 93 league goals this season with 3 games still to play. Compare this to last season’s tally of just 66 and it is clear to see the Chilean’s intentions. He plays an attacking brand of football that is extremely hard to thwart when in full flow. More often than not this season, they have found a way to outscore their opposition.
There was a stage earlier in the season when City were putting 3 or more goals past every team that stood in their way; the odds for them scoring once or netting 4 barely differed. Although they may have recently dropped off somewhat, you can’t help but think it wouldn’t take much to spark that kind of form once more. As well as the customary goals from star striker Sergio Agüero, Pellegrini must take great credit for showing immense loyalty to ?Edin Džeko. Often referred to as a ‘super sub’ under Mancini, ?Džeko has featured much more prominently in the new regime and has repaid the faith shown to him by securing his best ever goals return for the club this season.
Pellegrini has also added shrewdly to the squad that he inherited. The addition of Spaniard Álvaro Negredo from Sevilla has proved to be a superb acquisition; he’s bagged 23 goals in all competitions and has added a different, more direct dimension to City’s game. Jesús Navas also joined from Sevilla and adds great diversity to the side. City have lacked a top class winger over the past few seasons and Navas’ pace and clever crossing make him a vital part of the manager’s game plan.
Brazilian Fernandinho has probably been Pellegrini’s best bit of business however, the disciplined holding midfielder has allowed Yaya Touré to play in a more advanced role and this has been extremely beneficial to the team. City fans had been crying out for a player that would enable Touré to make his trademark surging runs more frequently and Fernandinho has successfully fulfilled that role.
Despite evident change on the field, it is perhaps off the field where Manchester City have stabilised most noticeably as a club. It was well documented that Mancini’s man management skills left something to be desired. Pellegrini has certainly brought a calmer, more controlled approach to the handling of his players, as well as the media. His experience in European competitions also guided City to their best ever Champions League finish. After exiting at the group stages in the past 2 seasons, they reached the knock out stages of the competition this campaign but fell short against a strong Barcelona side.
Ultimately, things look bright for Manuel Pellegrini as the manager of Manchester City. He has had a successful debut season and City could yet claim their second Premier League title in 3 years.
In this day and age, progression is generally measured by silverware and nowhere is that more true than at the club with the highest paid sportsmen on the planet. Expectations grow every season at The Etihad Stadium; they have every reason to. If Pellegrini continues to make headway with the club, the owners would struggle to find a better man for the job. However, in the fickle business that is football management, one bad season could spell the end for the experienced South American.
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