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Why Manuel Pellegrini is a Worthy Replacement to Roberto Mancini

After three successful years in charge at Malaga, and months of speculation regarding his managerial future, Manchester City finally announced the appointment of Manuel Pellegrini as manager, coming a month after the the sacking of Roberto Mancini. And according to City’s official club website, the Chilean will officially take up his managerial post on June 24th.

Even before the Chilean has even assumed the role as coach, there is already an air of negativity surrounding his appointment with some English media outlets describing him as a “big-spending foreigner with a modest trophy record.” These are the same people who hailed the appointment of David Moyes as manager of Manchester United despite not winning a single title during his ten year tenure at Everton. Injustice? I think so.

“What about his tenure at Real Madrid?” they ask. “He spent a whopping €200 million and still won nothing!” they exclaim. Well the fact of the matter is, El Ingeniero was appointed during what was a political battle inside the headquarters of Santiago Bernabeu. Cristiano Ronaldo and Kaka were brought in whilst Wesley Sneijder and Arjen Robben were sold, all of these actions were against his own wishes.

“I didn’t have a voice or a vote at Madrid,” he told El Mercurio in an interview in 2010

“I can’t get anything out of an orchestra if I have the 10 best guitarists but I don’t have a pianist or a drummer.”

Pellegrini heads to a club in need of rebuilding. The Sky Blues suffered a somewhat humiliating season. The Manchester club, who were defending Premier League champions, were well off the pace, finishing 11 points off eventual champions and rivals Manchester United. They suffered a 1-0 defeat to Wigan (who were relegated from the EPL) in the FA Cup final, and were eliminated in extraordinary fashion in the group stages of the Champions League.

Compounded to this is the fact that the fans themselves are still emotionally attached to their former Italian tactician. This will certainly provide a Stamford Bridge-esque atmosphere, a tension between the manager/club directors and fans.

However, despite these certain negativities that are overshadowing his appointment, there is no doubt that Manuel Pellegrini will bring with him qualities that Mancini lacked.

Casual and very friendly, Pellegrini will bring with him an attractive brand of football, unlike that of Mancini. Pellegrini sides are built on strong defensive foundations. This in turn will allow for midfield and attacking creativity.

And with his four years at Manchester City about to commence, here are a few factors that will transform this mediocre yet cash-rich club into a prestigious team.

Experience and quality:

The 59 year old, who has managed an astonishing 10 clubs to date, will bring along with him a wealth of experience.  He has, over the course of his time as player and manager, evolved with the game and the tactics implemented will suit the current needs in a physical game.

Despite his duck in terms of winning European titles, he credentials are still worth praising.

During his time at Villarreal, he transformed a small club from a Spanish town near Valencia with little to no history and prestige into a well respected club. The Yellow Submarines managed 3rd place in La Liga in the 2004-05 season, were Champions League semi-finalists in 2005-06 and broke the big two in 2008.

Let’s not forget his efforts in helping Malaga secure Champions League football for the first time in their history. During the 2010-11 season, last season’s magical Champions League run into the semis was without big names such as Santi Cazorla. This should provide fans with the confidence that Pellegrini is the key to continued football success.

Tactical superiority:

Pellegrini is an enhanced version of Mancini, who at times was clueless with tactical choices. He previous spells at the aforementioned Spanish clubs proved flexibility and he has seemingly left every club better than before he had arrived.

With a well founded Barcelona blueprint making its way into the club in conjunction with Pellegrini’s every growing knowledge and football philosophy, Manchester City will develop a tactical superiority over its rivals.

Txiki Begiristain, the sporting director, who was formerly affiliated with the Blaugrana, is trying to instill Barcelona’s infamous 4-3-3 formation into the 1st team and all the youth sides.

However, before this can be achieved, Pellegrini will be expected to use his own favoured tactics. For much of his career, the tactician has favoured the 4-2-2-2 formation instead of a balanced 4-4-2. His used this to great effect whilst at Spanish club Villarreal where he combined South American authenticity with European efficiency, which led to many admiring that attractive brand of football played.

At Malaga, he showed tactical flexibility by switching through numerous formations. At times he favoured the 4-3-1-2 formation which allowed creative hub Isco to weave his magic in the middle of the pitch. However he used the 4-2-3-1 formation to devastating effect. He was able to inject stability throughout the team. He utilized attacking firepower without risking their defensive solidity, highlighted by their 4-0 thrashing against Valencia last November.

He did choose a conservative 4-2-2 approach throughout the Champions League campaign en-route to the semi-finals. However, stability will hold the key, and unless he is forced into a 4-3-3 formation, his 4-2-2-2 or 4-2-3-1 formation will be used constantly.

The Citizens in the past have confronted Europe’s top trainers but none can boast of a reputation higher than the ‘Engineer’. Pellegrini – a masterclass tactician – will definitely bring the club much-needed success. His previous fruitful relationships with fans should fill ‘ultras’ with much hope. All in all, City could not have asked for a better coach.

Follow Cronan on Twitter: @CrowzarY

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  1. Steven P.

    June 20, 2013 at 2:49 pm

    Mancini was a decent tactician at City, nothing more. He was much better tactically at Inter. Maybe it has something to do with the league. We will see how Pelligrini fares. He unquestionably is a very good tactician and it is left to be seen how long it takes him to make his mark in the EPL.

    Really looking forward to the new season with all the new managers taking over at the top 3 clubs. I see all 3 clubs dropping points early so this might be the year Spurs or Arsenal or another team could really be in the title race.

  2. Sheldon

    June 20, 2013 at 2:06 pm

    We will see how the Chilean does but he is indeed – a better tactician, especially helpful in Europe, where Mancini faltered both at Inter and City. Whether he can win the league – that’s another story, just look at Benitez.

    With Manchester United and Chelsea starting with new managers, next season will be as good as any, to accomplish that goal.

  3. Mike

    June 20, 2013 at 12:11 pm

    You started the article quite well by briefly analysing the double standards evident within out rag top media. However this then descends into more of the same.

    Humiliating season? Really? For who? 30 year old fans like me that are still made up with the FA cup in 2011? Finishing second in the Premier League and being FA cup finalists is humiliating? Get a grip.

    “the fans themselves are still emotionally attached to their former Italian tactician. This will certainly provide a Stamford Bridge-esque atmosphere” – Absolutely unfounded and baseless nonsense. City fans will always love Roberto but the king is dead long live the king. City fans always back the manager, we backed Alan Ball FFS and will back Pellegrini too.

    “mediocre yet cash-rich club” – pure arrogance. City were English champions in 2012. When was the last mediocre team that won the Premier league mate?

    “Mancini, who at times was clueless with tactical choices” Really? The guy has forgotten more about football than you or I or any other captain hindsight combined could ever know. Have a little respect and drop that ego.

    • Tim Nash

      June 20, 2013 at 12:38 pm

      I’d give this post 5 thumbs up if I could. Bravo!

    • jtm371

      June 20, 2013 at 9:15 pm

      good perspective on the situation.the problem now everyone wants instant gratification.SAF would never happen today with his first years at MUFC.i am on the record i think City will take a step back with the new system and manager.i could be wrong i am just a Forest backer.

    • christian

      June 21, 2013 at 9:23 am

      Bravo Mike. Couldn’t have said it any better.

  4. Marc L

    June 20, 2013 at 11:25 am

    We’re looking forward to seeing what the Engineer can do!

    Sort of interesting about his use of the 4-2-2-2 “magic quadrilateral” at Villareal. This actually bombed in Madrid when a Brazilian manager tried to implement it around 2005. (And presumably those Madrid Fascists forbade him from instituting it when he got there a few years later.)

    With Zabba and Clichy being mobile and energetic up the flanks he might try some of this at City. But at the same time, you need two very solid defenders at the furthest back of the two and that might not be the best fit for the squad. Plus you also need forwards and midfielders adept at swinging out wide and the roster currently is a little short on that. (Navas is a nice start in that direction of course.)

    Anyway, this guy has always been pretty flexible tactically and works tactics to squad rather than the other way around. So I hope he will be able to work up some good stuff on the magnetic board to turn such a nice roster loose upon.

    EDIT: oh, okay, I should technically be referring to Real as “falangists” I guess.

    • Marc L

      June 20, 2013 at 11:28 am

      Meant “defensive midfielders at the furthest back of the line of 2’s.” Don’t want to be insulting VK and Nasty, who are top notch of course.

      Right now that might equate to Barry and the well-coiffed scarecrow Javi Garcia if you wanted to go 4-2-2-2 and you probably don’t want both of them out there at the same time with all the other options.

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