5 Reasons Why Manuel Pellegrini Has Been a Great Hire for Manchester City
Manuel Pellegrini's first few months in charge of Manchester City have been far from dull, and overall the Chilean is doing OK.
Yes, defeats at Cardiff and Aston Villa weren't great, and the way Bayern Munich dismantled the Sky Blues will linger long in the memory—but discussions on those performances can wait.
This season's tussle for the Premier League looks like it could be an open one, symptomatic of a general levelling out with champions Manchester United who are adjusting to life after one of the greatest managers in the history of the game, Arsenal signing Mesut Ozil and other factors.
Let's look at where Manuel and City have got it right.
Making Aguero the Number One Guy
The departures of the high-maintenance, high profile pair of Mario Balotelli and Carlos Tevez created breathing room for Sergio Aguero, but even so, there was no guarantee that the new boss would opt for the Argentine as his main man.
All managers like to stamp their authority, and with Stevan Jovetic and Alvaro Negredo arriving for a lot of money, there could have been a chance that Pellegrini would rotate his front line.
But Aguero's talent and contributions since arriving in 2011 counted for a lot. And rightly City has, by and large, worked around him.
The 25-year-old looks to be liking the mantle of City talisman that Tevez bore so well (on the pitch, at least). And Pellegrini knows he can rely on him with none of the histrionics his predecessor Roberto Mancini had to deal with from other front men already mentioned.
Settling Negredo in Nicely
Edin Dzeko's legions of committed fans will disagree, but Alvaro Negredo has looked the part of number one choice as Aguero's strike partner.
Yes, the Bosnian has hit the net four times just as the Spaniard has, but Negredo has not drifted out of games like Dzeko did against Bayern. And generally he has used his physical attributes to make a nuisance of himself.
Big-money signings from abroad don't always fire early on if at all (like Jo in 2008) but Negredo certainly has. And Pellegrini will have had a big part in that having signed the 28-year-old in mid-July.
Jovetic's injury early on played into the hands of the other three out and out strikers, but he may come into play more after the international break, which will require some of Pellegrini's famed man-management skills...
A Happy Ship
Some of the City squad (and if reports are to be believed, staff around the club) were fed up with Roberto Mancini, and in the way of the modern game, 'player power' held sway. The Italian was toast.
The club's hierarchy knew that could not be allowed to happen again, and in Pellegrini they hired a coach with a reputation for getting the best out his players, rather than one with a 'my way or the highway' approach.
So far, so good, with Edin Dzeko one of several players who have gone public with their approval of the new man with thinly-veiled 'compare and contrast' digs at Mancini. Not that he'll be too bothered, having quickly resurfaced at Galatasaray.
Pellegrini has said that squad rotation is part and parcel of the modern game, and the results of how players react when they get their chances will define his tenure.
Winning the Derby
Managing Manchester City? Want to get the fans on board quickly?
Beat Manchester United. Yes, it really is that simple.
Sven-Goran Eriksson did it even earlier, just three games in his hastily-cobbled together ensemble of a side edged to a 1-0 win courtesy of Geovanni—remember him?
Pellegrini sent the blue half of the city into raptures by engineering his troops to a spectacular 4-1 victory. It may not be as easy next time, but for now bragging rights reside firmly in post code M11.
City's Attacking Swagger Is Back
I liked Mancini, his methods worked up to a point and he gave witty, sardonic answers in the press conferences that are now such a big part of the football week.
But things had run their course his way, and under Pellegrini, City has gone a little bit more gung-ho.
It's not always worked, and the performance against Bayern was naive in the extreme, but Pellegrini made sure his men did not dwell on that shellacking.
Home matches like the visit of Everton need to be put to bed, and Lukaku's early goal apart, City set about bouncing back in fine style and completed a comfortable win.
That kind of display will be needed for all their home games, while a bit more Mancini-like pragmatism may be what's required on the road in the Premier League. It won't be dull.