The jubilation of finishing as Barclays Premier League champions in the most dramatic way possible was short lived for Manchester City and their fans. The scream of Agueroooo turned into Aguernoooo just a season later, as a Robin van Persie led Manchester United reclaimed the trophy with sheer one-sided dominance in the league.
Add to this, the FA Cup shock against a relegated Wigan and the lingering shadow of failure in Europe for two seasons running sealed Roberto Mancini’s fate as the club’s manager. The reaction from many quarters of the fan-base smacked of sympathy for the manager. After all, it was the Italian, who had led City to glory after a drought that lasted nearly half a century.
Ambition and a lack of patience are among the fastest growing trends in the sport currently; Mancini being the latest victim. The outgoing Italian was replaced by Manuel Pellegrini, a manager who has made his name working with the not so wealthy names, and yet achieving continental recognition by virtue of training his sides to play an attractive brand of football.
At Manchester City, it is not the money that matters but the success that comes under the scanner during the post season evaluation. Pellegrini has wasted no time in reinforcing the fairly strong squad he inherited, by securing the services of Fernandinho for a whooping £30m and Jesus Navas for a modest £15m.
Alvaro Negredo (£20m) and Stefan Jovetic (£22m) were brought in as direct replacements for the already departed Carlos Tevez and Mario Balotelli, taking their expenditure to £87m. The all-out approach by the hierarchy to secure potential targets clearly ratifies the overdrive of ambition among the ranks to build upon a project that has already sent across a few ripples across the United Kingdom as well as Europe, and the Chilean has a herculean task at hand: to quench a burgeoning thirst for glory. But can he live up to his billing?
Under the guidance of Pellegrini, Villareal scaled new heights of proverbial glory. Though the club did not manage to win something of note, record positions in the league and lengthy cup runs in Europe brought Pellegrini to the notice of the big fishes in Spain.
The setup of the magic rectangle, brought to prominence by the Brazilians in the 80’s was the mantra to fame for the yellow submarines. Defensively compact and offensively dynamic, the club won over many admirers with the adventurous football that they played and were among the top clubs of the country and the dark horses of Europe.
Stemming the Barca-Madrid domination of the league by finishing below Barcelona and above Real Madrid warranted his move to the latter just a couple of years later, as manager of the newly assembled Galacticos. The fine run of the club in the ensuing season would have brought them the league in any other country, except Spain where Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona were busy writing their own history.
The fact that Pellegrini only enhanced his reputation even after being sacked for his failure to land a major honour at the Bernebeau testifies his high regard in Spain. At Malaga, he worked under a Sheikh, who resorted to draining the club’s revenues in a bid to build an entire sporting city, along with a luxury marina and a hotel resort.
In an attempt to restore balance to the club’s finances, the Chilean delivered a rousing speech to his players, to propel them towards a magical run in Europe; something which turned into reality only to reach an anti-climax against the eventual runners-up, Borrusia Dortmund.
He adopted a similar system to that of his Villarreal days, ensuring the club punched above their weight to a fair extent domestically, and to a large extent in Europe.
At Real, the Chilean trainer wasn’t given much of a say in the political setup of the club. Despite his pleas to retain the services of both Wesley Sneijderand Arjen Robben, the Dutch duo were shipped off to Inter and Bayern respectively in an attempt to balance the books after an exorbitant spending spree. Co-incidentally, the two faced each other in the Champions League final at the Bernebeau, whereas Real continued to narrate their hoodoo in Europe.
In stark contrast, Pellegrini has been seemingly given the license to identify potential targets according to his needs and leave the rest to the administrators. The apparent freedom could bring out the best in him as he would have complete control over his squad, something which is absolutely essential for a manager to deliver results on the pitch.
With his best days ahead of him, there is a fair share of underachieved honours that Manuel Pellegrini’s talent justifies. By no means, is ‘The Engineer’ a one-trick pony or a small club wonder, and his crowning by the royal family of Abu Dhabi ratifies his abilities to achieve something big in the last phase of his largely under-rated career.