FEATURE: The Pellegrini Conundrum

It might have escaped your attention, but City are in a bad place at the moment. This last week has been awful and results need to pick up soon or this season might be beyond saving.

As I’ve argued before, the dignified university professor look is a good one when everything is going well but when events take a turn for the worse the lack of communication with the outside world is not helpful. Fans and the media have little to comment on apart from rumour and what happens on the pitch.

When City are destroying all comers, such as the period between November and January last season (the best football I’ve ever seen City play) or seeing the team lift either of the two trophies won last season, this is a fine strategy.

However, when City are falling to self inflicted wounds over and over again it is not.

To be clear, I’m absolutely not wanting Pellegrini to be fired and this is not kneejerk criticism. The same failings we have witnessed over the last seven days have been on display for over a year now; The adherence to 442 no matter what in particular is irritating and frustrating.

We don’t know Pellegrini. Maybe he’s different away from the cameras and the microphones. Maybe behind the scenes he’s a Ciceronian firebrand who switches from logic to pathos in an instant, spinning stories of bravery and love to inspire his people to great deeds

I mean, he probably isn’t, but maybe. Compare and contrast to his predecessor.

Mancini was an elemental manager, leaving burned bridges and scorched earth behind him with the promise of ruin ahead, but you could bet after last night that he would have come out swinging this week.

Pellegrini’s Manchester City on the other hand will retreat into their shell. City are becoming predictable to the opposition and the familiar approach simply won’t cut it anymore. Blaming the bad run of form solely on nebulous concepts like confidence and ‘lack of trust’ when there are obviously practical solutions to problems is not good. Stubborn and hard adherence to your principles is all well and good, but hardness is not strength and City look weak.

Mancini cared too little about what others thought of him and his principles, Pellegrini cares too much about his.

This is not a call for Pellegrini to turn into Mancini, or a wistful desire to have the Italian back in the fold, but the attitude at the heart of the club needs to change. Pellegrini and Mancini represent opposite ends of the same spectrum. Either approach in isolation will lead to their own disasters so we need a bit of both.

Written by Alex Timperley who is on Twitter

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3 comments on “FEATURE: The Pellegrini Conundrum
  1. Personally I’d like to see Demichelis given a longer run – appreciate that might not be a popular suggestion, but I do think he adds a certain stability that we are desperately lacking at the moment

  2. But is it really 4-4-2 “no matter what?”

    The focus a lot of fans have on three numbers always seems a bit odd to me. Pellers does change up to my eyes about as much as most managers – 1 up top at Bayern, various tweaks here and there during all of last year. Though there were injury issues that factored, Pellers started with one striker in ten league matches last year.

    Also, his increasing utilisation of Garcia slotted in front of the back last year when up a goal (or even to start) during the run-in pretty much rubbishes the argument that the guy is some sort of stubborn and inflexible oaf.

    Whenever I see nattering about “4-4-2” I think “lazy argument.” It is how the players out there work together and against the opposition that really matters rather than the intrinsic formation itself. And we are seeing a lot of the same things now that we did under Mancini in ’12-’13.

    If anything, I’d rather see a manager who sticks closer to a generally set system than all that crazy messing about that Mangini was up to as things started going sideways that year.

    For what it is worth, I think City’s problem has been more down to Yaya being off (perhaps carrying a nick as we find out) than anything else. And I am not blaming him by any means – just pointing out that when we were rampant last year it had very much to do with him hitting on all cylinders.

  3. It does seem like a rejig of tactics or personnel are needed. His blind loyalty to the likes of Dzeko and Toure when they’re obviously not playing well is not helping. But I don’t see how being more open with the media is going to help. Nothing good ever comes from trying to solve problems through the media. Even if the fans get nervous and worried that things aren’t going well, I don’t think that carries over to the players. They’re the ones that have to turn it around with Pellegrini’s help.

    Central midfield seems to be where most of the issues are. Against Newcastle, there was no shielding of the back 4, and then when the defenders had the ball, none of the central midfielders were showing for them for short passes to get the team moving up the pitch again. Ferna and Toure were excellent last year, but both have started poorly this year. Fernando seems to be taking a while to find his feet. Toure needs to start showing some leadership. You do wonder if the whole cake business in the summer was a genuine sign that he doesn’t care about playing for City anymore.

    But a win in the derby and a 3 or 4 goal smashing of CSKA will help to lift the mood. But please, no more Dzeko for a while. He offers nothing to a team when it’s not playing well. He can’t hold the ball up, and he doesn’t press central midfielders or centre backs when they’re in possession the way that Aguero does.

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