I am a huge fan of Manuel Pellegrini. When my favourite soccer teams rivals have managers like Sir Alex Ferguson or Jose Mourinho he stands out. He is a gentleman. He goes about his business in a quite efficient way and doesn’t stoop to the mind games and unsportsmanlike behaviour of others. He also delivered the League Cup and Premiership title in his first season and, though last season was a disappointment, there is good reason to believe that there might be more silverware on his CV before he leaves this summer.
Is it fair that he should be replaced by Pep Guardiola? In the old days and ways of English soccer probably not. However, there are new ways. This has been the familiar means of succession in Europe for many years. Real Madrid, Barcelona and Bayern Munich do not have mangers who stay as long as a Ferguson or a Wenger. Both Pellegrini and Guardiola live under different expectations and therefore will deal with all this much better than English sports journalists or even Man City fans like myself.
I believed Pep was for City as soon as the rumours broke that he was coming to England. My reason for belief goes back to a conversation at a wedding last summer with a man who has no idea about football. My friend is in academic medicine and helping set up a hospital in the Middle East. He was talking about the differences in culture and told me that out there there is no such thing as failure. You just spend the money until you succeed.
At that moment I knew that Manchester City were going to have the Pep Guardiolas and we would win trophy after trophy. It was at the same moment exciting and rather disappointing. Before City won the FA Cup in 2011 and particularly the Premiership in 2012 I told fans of successful teams that I didn’t understand their excitement about winning trophies year after year after year. I believe that even more a few trophies in. Nothing Manchester City ever do in my lifetime will top that Agueroooo moment to win the Premiership in 2012. The 44 year wait made the moment. The two seasons until the next one just didn’t build the same emotion.
So, to kind of know that, as a result of the importance our owners put on success, we would be getting Pep, that Messi is not out of the question and that we will win trophies before 2058 deflates the possible joy. Whether I can rip myself from a 46 year obsession is whole other challenge. Supporting soccer teams has almost an ethnic DNA. Leeds United is tempting though. When they next win the Premiership it is going to be a seriously joyous occasion.
Back to Pellegrini and my hope is that he leaves with a few trophies in the cabinet. He is coming 65 so I hope that he gets the national team job at Chile and takes them to a World Cup Final in 2018! I imagine that in another 3 years time it will be City who are left high and dry as Pep moves on in his 3 year cycle. That’s the way of the new soccer world! Maybe he’ll go to Leeds United?!
On last thing… I am not sure that Pep will be the gentleman Manuel has been. That is what I am most concerned about!