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Pellegrini Lined Up to Replace Mancini at City, but Is He an Upgrade?

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Pellegrini Lined Up to Replace Mancini at City, but Is He an Upgrade?
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Manchester City are reportedly set to trigger Manuel Pellegrini's release clause at Malaga.

Speculation that Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini is set for an Eastlands exit will no doubt intensify following his side’s 1-0 loss to Wigan in Saturday’s FA Cup Final.

Mancini, who replaced Mark Hughes at the club in 2009, was always going to be under pressure to deliver silverware each season, but the Wembley defeat means he has only the Community Shield and a Champions League position to show for this campaign, and, to the club’s Abu Dhabi bankrollers, that is unlikely to be enough.

On Friday, a report out of Spain surfaced in the English press linking current Malaga boss Manuel Pellegrini to the City job (via The Guardian), and, as recently as late last month, Spanish outlet AS was claiming Txiki Begiristain—City’s director of football—had been in Madrid to meet personally with Pellegrini’s agent.

But would Pellegrini represent a meaningful upgrade over Mancini? The Italian did, after all, secure City’s first title in 44 years last spring, and 12 months before that, he helped the club to its first FA Cup triumph since 1969.

He did not, however, take City out of the Champions League Group Stage in either of the last two seasons, and it’s on the European front that Begiristain & Co. likely think they can do better with the Chilean.

Alex Livesey/Getty Images
Roberto Mancini's Manchester City lost the FA Cup Final to Wigan on Saturday.

In 2006, Pellegrini took diminutive Villarreal all the way to the Champions League semifinals, and only a few months ago, his Malaga side progressed to the tournament’s quarterfinal stage, where they bowed out to Borussia Dortmund.

The 59-year-old’s lone season with Real Madrid looks good on his CV as well, even though the Primera Division giants failed to win a trophy under his watch.

But they did record 96 points in La Liga—a total that, at the time, was the most Madrid had ever compiled in the top flight. (Jose Mourinho’s Real Madrid side put up 100 points in winning the title last term.)

In other words, Pellegrini has experience managing high-profile players and is no stranger to big-money clubs who target the biggest prizes year after year.

That said, it’s not as if City are looking for a manager to come in and put down roots for the next 10 or 15 years. It’s Chelsea’s template they're looking to emulate, not Manchester United’s.

And that’s just fine.

Since Roman Abramovich took control of Chelsea in 2003, he has employed 10 managers in 10 years. And while the managerial seat has never been a stable one, the club has nevertheless won 10 major honours, including three Premier League titles and the Champions League.

It hasn’t always been a popular strategy, but it has certainly been an effective one.

And effectiveness is what the City hierarchy are after in Pellegrini. Because they don’t seem to think Mancini showed enough of it this season.

 

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