With Manuel Pellegrini all but confirmed as City’s new manager, Pablo Zabaleta has spoken at length about the 59 year old Chilean manager. When Zabaleta started his career at San Lorenzo in Argentina Pellegrini was in charge. Even though Zabaleta wasn’t directly managed by Pellegrini as he was a 16 year old in the reserves he is excited by the prospect of his arrival at City. He said:
When I was at San Lorenzo with him, I was in the second team. I don’t really know him that well as a person but what I do know is that he’s done well at Real Madrid, Malaga, and Villarreal. Now we will see how he will do at Manchester City if he comes. After he left San Lorenzo he went to River Plate. He was always keen on youth development and won important things there as well. That makes him a good manager.
Pellegrini’s reputation is built upon his attractive brand of football. City’s lack of width and one dimensional attacking play is perhaps one of the reasons that Roberto Mancini was dismissed but Zabaleta is optimistic that Pellegrini’s style will be of benefit to City:
Both (Mancini and Pellegrini) like to play good football but Pellegrini likes to play with two wingers – get the ball out wide. I think we will be more attacking. You saw with Malaga that whenever they played, they played to win. That is something which is very important for a top team. Whenever you go to play you should play to win.
His football is great – someone I know and trust has told me he is a superb manager now. He did well when we were at San Lorenzo. He had success there, he built a good team and then when he went to Villarreal he took a club who had been in the third division to playing in the semi-finals of the Champions League. They played Arsenal and were within a penalty kick of going to the final. He did great at Madrid as well and hopefully if he comes to City he can just carry that on with us.
With City’s dismal performances in Europe in mind Zabaleta feels that Pellegrini’s achievements with Villareal and Malaga in the Champions League will help City overcome their European hoodoo. Progress in Europe is sure to be high on Pellegrini’s list of priorities when he arrives at City and Zabaleta is sure the Chilean’s experience will help.
He’s a very quiet person. But he likes to play attractive football. Also his record in Europe is great – and that’s something we haven’t done so well in recent seasons. He won’t have a problem adapting to the Premier League – he can do that. He’s worked in a lot of countries but it will be his first experience of managing in England. But when you have as much experience as he has, he will have everything very clear in his mind. He’s a clever person and he will know what to do when he takes over. When you start off with a new experience like this, he will expect to do well straight away and if we work well he can be a success.
Finally, Zabaleta, who was speaking as part of the post season tour of New York, praised the fans for supporting Roberto Mancini even after he was sacked. He said:
They have shown a massive support for Roberto and it’s always great to see support from the fans for a manager like that. He came to the club, he won the Premier League, the FA Cup, and the Community Shield – he took City to another level. But often in football this happens. If you aren’t winning things then the situation can change very quickly.
Although Pellegrini is not officially the City manager it is almost inevitable that he will be. Yesterday, he confirmed that he will be leaving Malaga at the end of the season and there is cause for City fans to be optimistic. After all, City have a fine set of players who on their day are the best team in the country. With a tactically astute manager in Pellegrini on his way and a few decent signings in the transfer window City could be a force to be reckoned with both domestically and in Europe next season.
Written by Robert Toole