Manuel Pellegrini’s summer contract extension took us all a bit by surprise, even though it was a sensible move for all concerned. The Chilean has done well at City, winning trophies and such, but is coming to a natural finishing point in Manchester.
The shadow of Guardiola’s expected Bayern Munich exit is beginning to cover the football world, however even without this recent development it is unlikely Pellegrini would have lasted into next season.
Overall, Pellegrini has done a decent job at City. A Premier League win – one of only four league titles in the club’s history – and a League Cup are nothing to be sniffed at. He has earned his place in City’s history alongside the club’s best managers. All that whilst doing a job which, at the time he took over from Roberto Mancini, was probably a lot more complex than we give him credit for.
Pellegrini has taken City into the knock out stages of the Champion’s League three times now and could very well (fingers crossed) be taking City into the Quarter Finals for the first time ever.
Like I said, a decent enough job for a man in charge of a financial behemoth such as City.
But simply doing a decent job, keeping things ticking over, won’t cut it at City anymore. And that’s where Pep Guardiola, or at least the idea of Pep Guardiola, comes into play.
Guardiola is the best coach in the modern game. His record of trophies speaks for itself but he is also an innovator with a sprawling imagination. He is the superstar coach needed to take City to the next level.
For all his good points, Pellegrini’s limitations are the sort of things which give City a clearly defined ceiling. He is often tactically unimaginitive and inflexible. Neither of those are crippling on their own but he seems unwilling to learn the lessons of playing against the biggest teams and we have seen the same mistakes repeated over and over again because of this. It is Pellegrini’s inability to correct his errors and move forward which will doom him.
City currently have everything in place to be incredibly successful but it is impossible to shake the sense that the team and club are somehow still limited. The world class training facilities, a burgeoning academy, the star studded squad, the newly expanded stadium… everything is there. Potential which is mostly untapped.
It is difficult to see a City under Guardiola having any ceiling at all.
He has a record of winning which speaks for itself. He has won everything with his teams on the pitch. Even if you (wrongly) subscribe to the (bad) theory that all he does is ride the coat tails of pre-established teams/stars to success… well, what are City if not a collection of very good players, mostly in their respective primes, who should probably have achieved more by now and should achieve more in the near future?
The key with Guardiola is that he is a builder. He is a man who builds dynasties, the anti-Mourinho. Whereas Mourinho leaves teams in shambles after he leaves (or when he is still there as is the case with Chelsea’s current relegation struggle), Guardiola tends to create success that lasts. Guardiola’s achievements feel real because they are built on solid foundations.
And City arguably have the built arguably the best foundations in world football and it is time to kick on with building the house. Both the words and the actions of the City hierarchy have reinforced the idea that they are a patient bunch, with one caveat: they are always looking for progression. An upward trajectory. This is what will likely ensure Pellegrini’s departure in May even if he wins another Premier League title. In this weak league that should be par, and par is not good enough for a club which is looking to take the next step up.
The foundations have been laid, there is a house to be built and there is no more desirable architect in this case than Pep Guardiola. Pellegrini will forever have his rightful place in City history, but City are ready to move onwards an upwards and Guardiola is the man who can take the club there.
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Written by Alex Timperley