Manuel Pellegrini’s Manchester City side recorded a third straight Premier League win on Sunday at White Hart Lane. The victory stopped a four game slide for the Blues away from Manchester and clinched at worst fourth spot in the league barring a complete reversal of goal difference (Manchester City is currently +24 over Liverpool).
The gritty manner of the victory should serve as notice to City’s brass that a coaching change is not needed at the club, but simply a change in transfer policies. It can be strongly argued that had the Blues not sacked Roberto Mancini two years ago, the club with its pragmatic style of football would have given Chelsea a real run for the Premier League title this season. Instead, Pellegrini’s side obsessed with style thanks to a directive from above was overrun after the first of the year and fell away rapidly.
But Pellegrini has shown when the chips are down, he has an ability to rally the troops. The spirit and fight demonstrated by Manchester City on Sunday was reminiscent of some of the critical matches of the Mancini era where the side dug deep and found a way to escape with three points under tough circumstances.
City’s buying policy has been dissected previously here at World Soccer Talk, so there is no need to once again belabor the point. But today’s team which featured a third consecutive start for 36 year-old Frank Lampard, who will leave English football in a few weeks, and the need to use Dedryck Boyata — a 24 year-old MCFC Academy product who prior to Sunday had made a total two Premier League appearances over the past four seasons — speaks volumes at the lack of depth in the squad.
Boyata’s inclusion was key as his aerial ability helped snuff out three late opportunities against Spurs. The insertion of the Belgian defender did show Pellegrini can be pragmatic and practical when protecting a lead. In last season’s title run, the Chilean manager often used Javi Garcia to lock down matches late. This season, deprived of that option due to the Spanish midfielder being sold following the purchase of the underwhelming Fernando, Pellegrini hasn’t had a player that could lock down a match and thus Manchester City have blown a few late leads.
While a narrative has been painted that Pellegrini might in fact be a “dead man walking,” Manchester City has already learned the hard way that sacking a successful manager in Mancini does not necessarily guarantee any type of long-term success. With the brass at the club unable to play the transfer market as wisely as rivals Chelsea and Arsenal while being incapable of offering loyal club servants like James Milner decent contractual terms, perhaps they should focus on the player side more carefully and not sack yet another manager.
The situation at City, despite two recent Premier League titles, could in fact be dire. A case can be made that if the entire project will be blown up, an opportunity to bring in a new manager will be afforded. However, Pellegrini for all his perceived stubbornness has shown a pragmatic steak and a sacking would seem both harsh and show up the ownership at the club for a lack of patience.
It is difficult to imagine Manchester City securing a better managerial option than Pellegrini given the “play the right way” mantra coming from the top. The likes of a Diego Simeone or a Jurgen Klopp may not be attractive to former Barcelona executives whose obsession with style and lack of understanding of English football have seemingly turned a potential dynasty into a club that will have to fight tooth and nail just to remain in Champions League places the next few seasons.
With all of this in mind, City would be best served to keep Pellegrini for another season and then hand over the reins either to Patrick Vieira who has long been seen as City’s potential “Pep Guardiola,” or try and attract Guardiola himself next summer.
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