Manchester City: Will Manuel Pellegrini Live Up to Roberto Mancini's Standard?

Phil Keidel@@PhilKeidelContributor IIJune 14, 2013

Manuel Pellegrini's popularity in Manchester will never be greater than it is right now.
Manuel Pellegrini's popularity in Manchester will never be greater than it is right now.Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images

Manuel Pellegrini, still stuck on the starting blocks in his turgid race to become Manchester City's manager, per The Guardian, may struggle to live up to the record accrued by his predecessor, Roberto Mancini.

Why? Because history is littered with the corpses of the guy who followed "the guy."

The closest we have in the States to the Premier League, in terms of popularity and sheer scale, is the National Football League.

My premise here, then, was originally going to be an emphasis on the struggles of NFL head coaches who followed Super Bowl winners.

A funny thing happened on the way to that bit of genius, though. As it turns out, the head coaches of Super Bowl champions often do not go anywhere any time soon.

Look at this list.

Even putting aside this past season's NFL champions, the Baltimore Ravens, who wouldn't think of firing John Harbaugh after he led his team to the Lombardi Trophy, you have to go a long way back through the Super Bowl champions to find a winning team that made a quick coaching change.

Tom Coughlin is still coaching the New York Giants. Mike McCarthy still leads the Green Bay Packers. Sean Payton is surely relieved and excited to be taking over the New Orleans Saints again following his suspension.

Keep tracking back, and you'll see that it is not until 2007 that you find a Super Bowl winner no longer in the job. This particular anomaly was Tony Dungy, who left the Indianapolis Colts of his own accord, as did the Pittsburgh Steelers' Bill Cowher the season before.

The point here is that, as hard as it is to find a coach who can win a championship, it is even harder to replace him.

If replacing a winning leader was easy, it would happen more often.

Returning to Manchester City and the Premier League, then, City's faithful know all too well the difficulties associate with finding the man to replace "the man."

Consider this: even after City embarrassingly flamed out of the Champions League, dismantled their Premier League defense and choked away the FA Cup to a relegation-bound side, resulting in Mancini getting sacked, the City partisans sang Mancini's name and modestly protested his axing.

Those fans know what City's management may soon find out.

It is easier to fire an underperforming manager than it is to fire a couple dozen players, that's true.

But having given those players what they asked for, what's the answer if the new manager can't win with these guys, either?

What if the problem was less Mancini than it was Vincent Kompany's dip in form, Joe Hart's slippery fingers, Sergio Aguero's dodgy hamstring and Samir Nasri's gutless play?

Right now, before Pellegrini officially takes charge, it's all breathless exhortations of how awesome it will be to see "The Engineer" set loose on an unsuspecting Premier League. It's all easy now. After all, the fixtures will not be announced until next week.

What happens, though, if City starts out with an uncomfortable home win to Southampton and a lucky draw at Liverpool? That is, what if they start out the same way they did last year coming off a championship?

Is everything going to be okay, or are the whispers that the Chilean's style won't translate in England going to progress from a low thrum to a dulcet buzz in the matter of days?

Pellegrini assumes control of a club whose outgoing manager won its first Premier League crown in 44 years just 13 short months ago, and whose management expects a trophy every season from this day forward.

As always, the sound course for City and their fans is to hope for the best but prepare for the worst.

Maybe Manchester City will start winning matches in August, never stop until May and pull down three cups.

If they don't, though, it may have less to do with Manuel Pellegrini's acumen than it does with the difficulty of being the man who follows "the man."