Is Manuel Pellegrini the Answer?

It’s been plastered over the newspapers and the internet. Roberto Mancini was sacked weeks ago with Malaga’s manager Manuel Pellegrini replacing him. Since the FA Cup loss Saturday to Wigan, Mancini was supposed to have been relieved of his duties on ten different time frames. I’ve seen reports that he wouldn’t make it through the weekend, yet he’s still with the team and preparing to face Reading tomorrow. I’ve also seen reports that he has a few more weeks as gaffer at the Etihad. However, that’s neither here nor there. We’re here to discuss whether or not Manuel Pellegrini is the answer for Manchester City.

I, as I’m sure most City fans do, respect what Roberto Mancini has done for Manchester City. The FA Cup loss hurt, but City has seen much worse. If it weren’t for Mancini, winning or losing the FA Cup would be the least of our worries.

Now, onto the topic of Pellegrini. The Chilean who has managed a host of Chilean football clubs as well as River Plate, Villarreal and Real Madrid, has been in charge in the south of Spain since 2010.

Manuel Pellegrini is the supposed heir apparent to Roberto Mancini at Manchester City.

Manuel Pellegrini is the supposed heir apparent to Roberto Mancini at Manchester City.

Malaga’s league standing is irrelevant in this argument as we all know that this is not the reason he is being linked with Manchester City. If anything, Mancini is the better option when it comes to league play. You’d have to have something against Mancini to think he couldn’t keep City in the top 2 of the Premier League for years to come.

With their financial struggles and no prospect of European football next season, Pellegrini led Malaga to the quarterfinals of the Champions League before they were knocked out in the last few minutes by Borussia Dortmund. And with the end-all, be-all nature of Champions League success, this little run along with his quarterfinal and semifinal appearances at Villarreal puts him leaps and bounds above Mancini and his shed of domestic glory.

However, when Pellegrini had the top job at Real Madrid… he flopped. Pellegrini was in charge when the Merengues bought Cristiano Ronaldo, Xabi Alonso, Kaka and Karim Benzema. The total cost of those four players? Somewhere in the region of £200 million. I’m seeing a similar knock against Mancini here.

It wasn’t long before Pellegrini’s Real Madrid side lost to Segunda División B side AD Alcorcón in the Copa del Rey Round of 16 by an aggregate score of 4-1. Then in March of the following year, he and his team was bounced from the Champions League in the Round of 16 by Lyon. Of course, they also finished second to Barcelona that year albeit while accumulating 97 points.

After being sacked, he criticized the club’s “Galacticos” transfer policy.

“We didn’t win the Champions League because we didn’t have a squad properly structured to be able to win it,” he said.

Sound familiar?

Whether or not Roberto Mancini is sacked, Manuel Pellegrini is not the perfect candidate. When the pressure was on to win, he didn’t. When he had the money to drop £200 million on players, he failed. The sexy pick isn’t always the best pick.

 

 

 

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Mancini’s Silver Touch Has City Looking at Another Trophy

Today at Wembley, Roberto Mancini once again quieted his critics as Manchester City beat Chelsea 2-1 to advance to the FA Cup Final against Wigan Athletic. Should the Blues beat Wigan on the 11th of May, Mancini will have won his fourth piece of silverware with City in three seasons. Quite amazing when you add it to the nine trophies he won during his spells at Fiorentina, Lazio and Inter.

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Roberto Mancini: Scarves, fruit pastilles, and a whole lot of silverware.

Like the derby a week ago, Manchester City looked the better side from the start. The intricate passing moves between Sergio Aguero, Carlos Tevez, Samir Nasri and even James Milner had the Chelsea defense all bent out of shape. If not for some key blocks from Branislav Ivanovic and Ryan Bertrand and some decent goal keeping from Petr Cech, City would have scored two or three goals long before Nasri bumbled one into the back of the net to make it one-nil.

Also like the derby, it made you wonder where was this City for the first eight months of the season? Where was this high-flying, quick passing team during the Champions League? It’s a question that has been beaten to death in the past few weeks and the blame has been heaped on the gaffer but can you reasonably expect this type of play when the likes of Aguero and Vincent Kompany have missed stretches of the season due to injury?

Whether you call this season a failure is up to you. I definitely won’t because it wasn’t long ago that a City supporter couldn’t dream of three consecutive seasons with silverware and the reason City supporters can see that becoming a reality is Roberto Mancini.

Que the people arguing that it was the money, not Mancini.

Let’s not forget that Mark Hughes was given the same giant transfer budget that Mancini was. Let’s not forget that if it weren’t for Hughes floundering about, Mancini would have never been hired by City. Taking that into account, you have to point to the manager as the reason City has been so successful in the last three seasons.

Mancini is a winner. The same executives who were supposedly looking to give him the sack as soon as possible said so themselves. He’s won trophies as both as player and a manager. No, City did not win the Champions League yet but the Champions League isn’t easy to win. Ask Sir Alex, he’s only won it twice in 27 years. (Gasps!)

City’s recent run of form is an example of Mancini’s management. Seven wins out of eight games. It was Mancini’s management that chose to stick with Costel Pantilimon who hadn’t conceded a single goal in the FA Cup run until today and it was Mancini who knew what to say to Samir Nasri to get him back on track. It will probably also be Mancini’s management that sends Nasri to PSG in the summer.

I don’t want to count any chickens before they hatch but it’s highly likely that City will beat Wigan in May. And while I don’t know what the future holds for Mancini and if he will be the manager of City next season, one thing I do know is that there aren’t many City managers who can say they put as much silverware in the trophy cabinets as the Italian.

City Carves a Bigger Slice of the Manchester Pie

In the 79th minute of yesterday’s Manchester Derby as Sergio Aguero dummied his way through the United defense before blasting a shot into the top of the net, you could feel the pendulum beginning to swing back towards a more 50/50 share of Manchester dominance between the top two clubs in the English Premier League over the last two seasons.

Not to be misquoted, I’m not saying that Manchester City is on its way to matching United’s bloated trophy case. It’ll take a while to do that and it doesn’t help matters that those guys are still probably going to win the Premier League this season. However, a second consecutive victory at Old Trafford has sounded the alarm to the rest of the league and to the old fogey in charge of the Reds.

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Sergio Aguero continued to etch his name into Manchester City lore with the game winning goal in last night’s Manchester derby.

If City is still only noisy neighbors then they are those neighbors you have when you move into your first apartment. The ones above you that stomp on the floor all night, seem to drop everything and have a shouting match or two in the wee hours of the morning.

City were on the front foot for most of the game, playing their attractive style of football that has been seldom seen this season. Fergie’s boys seemed content to sit back and try to absorb wave after wave of City attack and hit them on the break. Remember that Phil Jones actually headed Robin van Persie’s free kick attempt away from Joe Hart’s goal. If it weren’t for Vincent Kompany’s back, Jones would have looked like a fool.

Amid ludicrous rumors that Roberto Mancini would lose his job if his team lost the game, Mancini once again showed that he was a quality manager. Choosing the right team to control the game, albeit Samir Nasri only showed flashes of decent play, and bringing on the ever-deadly Aguero at the right moment to drive the dagger in their rivals’ hearts.

Only the second team to beat United at Old Trafford this season and the first to beat them in two successive seasons at the Theater of Dreams since Bolton in 2001 and 2002, City can take some pride in being the best team in Manchester or at least being able to stake a claim to the title.

City’s presence as a force in the Prem won’t fade anytime soon, much to the behest of United supporters. The Blues out-talented United last night just as they did last year in the 6-1 drubbing of the Reds away, Mancini somehow managed to out-manage the shrewd Sir Alex, and Sergio Aguero just upped his price to over 60 million if Real Madrid do come calling this summer (but I doubt Aguero is going to leave the Etihad. He is already a legend for Manchester City.)

All is right in the blue half of Manchester for at least a week as City prepares for their semi-final FA Cup tie with Chelsea on Sunday. United may win the title going away but the war is far from over and you can expect to see more results like last night as City continues to improve as a team and club.

The champions demanded respect from their rivals, even if they had to beat it out of them.

3 Reasons I Hate Manchester United

The Manchester Derby is tomorrow and for all intents and purposes it is meaningless outside of the rivalry between the two teams. It would take a colossal meltdown for Manchester United to drop a 15 — 18 should they win tomorrow, 12 should they lose — point lead in the final six games and Manchester City is destined for second and another go next season. I’ll believe the the rumors of an empty team sheet and no manager at the Etihad in August when I see it.

However, the countdown to the derby has me — a Manchester City supporter — thinking about all the reasons I despise United. I could probably go all day, but I’ll only give you a few.

1. Manchester United boasts over 650 million supporters worldwide.

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I bet there are a few tourists in the stands there. You know, 650 million supporters and all.

I’m not concerned with how many supporters they have worldwide because quite frankly I couldn’t give a damn. This comes to mind first because United supporters like to call City supporters fake. There is no way in Hell that over 650 million supporters (only 0.1% of those come from Manchester if you believe these numbers) aren’t most glory hunters. It’s been 30 years since United has had a bad stretch of seasons. As an American, I know a lot of “football fans.” Most of them are Manchester United supporters. Half of them don’t know that David Beckham played for United.

2. Manchester United plays the victim role too often.

Why did they lose to Real Madrid? The refs. Why didn’t they win the league last season? City spent a bagazillion pounds. No team has as many 50/50 calls go their way as Manchester United does. The only reason people talk about Fergie Time is because it’s proven fact that United wins many games in added time which is easy to do when said team regularly gets 4 or 5 minutes to score in. How many times have we heard Sir Alex moan about not getting enough time added after an United loss or draw?

3. Manchester United supporters like to act like United is a poor club

Everytime City or Chelsea or any other big money club wins, it’s because they bought it. Apparently, every single player on Manchester United’s squad is a product of Manchester United’s academy. Let’s take a look. Of the current first team squad, Ben Amos, Paul Scholes, Darren Fletcher, Ryan Giggs, Danny Welbeck, and Jonny Evans are products of the academy. If you were keeping count, that’s only six players and Ben Amos is stretching the classification of a “first team player.” That means that United bought every other player on their squad. Gasps!

Possible Summer Targets for Manchester City Pt. 2

Read part one here.

Edison Cavani

Edison Cavani is one of the most sought after players in Europe right now and that’s exactly why I think Manchester City should pass on making a move for the Uruguayan striker who currently plays for Napoli.

Napoli knows clubs what Cavani and they know a lot of those clubs have a lot of money so his price tag is outrageous. Don’t get me wrong, Cavani is a game changer, the type of striker that you put on the pitch and he immediately makes a difference. His ability to put the ball into the back of the net is on par with the best in the world and he is selfish enough to make chances from himself.

All that being said, City can get two or three quality players for the price Napoli is asking for Cavani. There are cheaper strikers out there.

Radamel Falcao

Falcao has been linked with every big money club in the world. It doesn’t help that some call him the best pure number 9 right now. Like Cavani, the problem with City pursuing Falcao is that it’s going to cost a pretty penny to get him to the Etihad. With Financial Fair Play on the horizon, the last thing City needs to do is break the bank to reinforce one of the strongest positions on their team.

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El Tigre will likely be leaving Atletico Madrid in the summer and Manchester City may be one of his landing spots.

The Colombian also known as El Tigre can do it all and do it all well. He’s garnered a reputation for leading his club to Europa League titles but Manchester City is aiming a little higher than winning the Europa League.

Falcao would be an instant improvement to any club, but City’s current striker situation does not demand they go out and spend €80 million on a forward even if the last forward we got from Atletico Madrid led us to a Premier League championships.

Jesus Navas

Jesus Navas, currently playing for Sevilla FC in La Liga, has been getting a lot of spin in the rumor mill recently, connecting him with a move to Manchester City. Again, this is a move that I don’t think City should make.

Don’t get me wrong, Navas is a great player and would do well for most clubs but I don’t know where he fits into City’s future plans with a player like Isco also likely to move from his club this summer. Navas will be 28 soon and the Blues need to look towards the future with their purchases.

Alexis Sanchez

Alexis Sanchez is another player who has recently begun to be linked with a move to the Etihad. The 24-year-old Chilean striker seems to be angling for a way out of the Nou Camp and clubs are lining up to get him.

Known for his speed, dribbling and creativity with the ball, he could wreak havoc on the most disciplined defenses as he has shown many times during his time with Barcelona. Pairing him with Sergio Aguero could be both positive and negative as the two players have very similar play styles.

However, if City were to go out and get a forward, Sanchez should be closer to the top of the list as he won’t cost an arm and a leg to get.

Christian Eriksen

I know Christian Eriksen has been linked with a move to the other side of Manchester more often than he has been with Manchester City, but damn it if there is a player City needs to break the bank on, it is him. The Ajax product recently put clubs on alert when he refused to sign a contract extension with the club, possibly angling for a move to England in the summer.

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Bringing Christian Eriksen to the Etihad could set Manchester City up for a long run at the top of the Premier League.

Roberto Mancini and the City technical staff got an up close look at how talented this guy is during City’s two games against Ajax in the group stage of this year’s Champions League. He’s already a great midfielder and he’s only 21 years old. Just take a look at the hundreds of highlight videos on YouTube.

Eriksen is creative enough to operate in David Silva’s stead or alongside the Spaniard. His ability to put corners into threatening positions would work wonders for players like Vincent Kompany, Micah Richards, Yaya Toure or Javi Garcia. The possibilities are endless.

Mauro Icardi

Sampdoria’s Mauro Icardi has been getting plenty of looks from Manchester City. The Argentine striker is the Serie A club’s leading scorer at the tender age of 20 years old. Roberto Mancini, who played for Sampdoria for 15 years, personally went down to Italy to watch him play. That has to account for something.

However, I think €13 million is a little too steep for a player this young.

Neymar

Come on… you knew he’d be here eventually. If a club has the cash, then they will be linked with potentially the next great player from Brazil. He’s been linked for years with a move to Barcelona but I think the right people could convince him that going to England would be better for his career.

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Neymar to Manchester City may be a pipe dream, but don’t rule it out until his transfer saga is over.

Like some of the other players on this list, there is no need to talk about how good Neymar really is. His skill with the ball at his feet is second to none and his clinical finishing makes you wonder how is it possible for someone so young to be so good.

Obviously, his price tag is high but with his contract running out Santos may be forced to sell him on before he leaves for free. I’m inclined to believe that his original 2014 timeline for a move to Europe will actually be the summer of 2013.

Marquinhos

Marquinhos has been making the headlines a lot for his near-flawless play for Roma this season. It’s not shocking for a new defender to come into a team and play well, but it is shocking for a player who is two months shy of his 19th birthday to be doing what Marquinhos has done.

His ability to read the game is better than some defenders ten years his senior. He’s the type of player that cleans up mistakes before they turn into goals, something that he has done on more than a few occasions this season. With Joleon Lescott possibly on his way out, Marquinhos can come in and give Manchester City two great young centerbacks to build for the future.

Jetro Willems

Jetro Willems has previously been linked with a move to Manchester United as they tabled a €10 million bid for the young Dutch left back, but I think the guys in blue should make a move for him this summer.

Sir Alex Ferguson called him the “next Patrice Evra.” Well, some called Matija Nastasic the “next Nemanja Vidic” so it’s only right that Manchester City gets another young player who has been compared to some old guy currently playing for the enemy.

Gareth Bale and Wayne Rooney

The reason I put these two together is because it is highly unlikely that Manchester City could get either one of them.

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Is Wayne Rooney the next player to leave United for City? It’s not as unlikely as it sounds.

Gareth Bale has been linked with moves away from White Hart Lane for some time now, but I think that Luka Modric’s inability to settle in at Real Madrid has disenchanted him with the prospect of playing for Los Blancos. Recently, it’s been rumored that Bale intends to stay in England for at least another year.

Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney has also hit the rumor mill after being left out of United’s starting lineup against Real Madrid in their Champions League tie this past Tuesday. Rooney has been effectively replaced by Robin van Persie and the last time Fergie said he wouldn’t sell a player, Cristiano Ronaldo left for Madrid.

Five Reasons Why Roberto Mancini Doesn’t Need to Fear the Sack

Lately, the popular subject to talk about when it comes to Manchester City is whether manager Roberto Mancini will have a job at the end of the season.

However, anyone with half a brain knows that Mancini will not be sacked at the end of the season. Yes, City has played poorly through stretches of this season. Yes, City finished fourth in their Champions League group. Yes, they are currently in second, twelve points back from crosstown rival Manchester United.

That being said, here are five reasons why I think Roberto Mancini will be Manchester City’s manager next season.

1. Injuries have wrecked havoc through City’s dressing room. The Blues’ best offensive threat, Sergio Aguero, was injured thirteen minutes into the first game of the season. At one point during the Champions League campaign, City only had one fit fullback.

2. He is not Mark Hughes. Mancini has a record of winning, with at least one piece of silverware at every club he has ever managed. No, he hasn’t won the Champions League yet but that’s not the easiest thing to do. It’s not something that can be bought. Yes, I went there. Ask Roman Abramovic about it.

3. Speaking of Mr. Abramovic, we’re not talking about a manager at Chelsea here. Not every team fueled by one man’s millions is going to sack a manager just because he isn’t pulling a treble every season. Since being taken over by Sheikh Mansour, Manchester City has had two managers. Mancini is actually the sixth-longest serving manager in the Premier League now.

4. You simply don’t fire the manager who brought your club its first title in 44 years. It’s hard to win championships. It’s harder to defend them. I would completely understand this talk if City was outside of the top six. I would understand it if they were outside the top four, but they are second…

5. And as for being second, if last season taught us anything it’s that you can’t call the title race over until the last game is done and dusted. Manchester United had an 8 point lead on Manchester City with 6 games remaining, including a Manchester Derby, last season. Currently, Manchester United has a 12 point lead on Manchester City with 12 games remaining, including a Manchester Derby. United has played well, but no team is invincible.

I’m aware that most people will say the title race is over and it’s Mancini’s fault that this ultra-expensive squad didn’t win back-to-back titles. But if we are going to start firing managers for coming in second the season after winning a championship then we’re going to have to go back to 1995 and fire Sir Alex.