With the season nearing the halfway point, no longer is Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini new to the job. He’s overseen 23 matches in all competitions. His team are sitting fourth in the Premier League table, have a first appearance in the last 16 of the Champions League to look forward to in February and a Capital One Cup quarter-final against Leicester next week.
The only blot on Pellegrini’s copybook so far has been City’s poor away form in the league. They’ve won just two of their eight away league matches this season. When compared to their imperious home form—and their Champions League away form, which saw them win all three group matches, scoring eight goals—it becomes ever more baffling.
Overall, though, he’s made a decent start, and the goals are flying in—18 in six Champions League matches, and 41 in their 15 league games. When City play well, there’s no finer sight in English football right now.
However, how does Pellegrini's start compare to that of predecessor Roberto Mancini, who took over from Mark Hughes in December of the 2009/10 season?
If we discount Europe—City weren’t involved in the Champions League when the Italian first arrived—and compare Mancini’s first 15 league matches with Pellegrini’s, their records are very similar in terms of points.
Mancini won nine, drew three and lost three of his opening 15, winning 30 points. Pellegrini has won nine, drawn two and lost four, securing 29 points.
The biggest difference has come in terms of goals scored. Mancini’s first 15 league matches yielded 31 goals for and 13 against. Pellegrini’s overtly attacking philosophy has seen City score 41 goals and concede 15.
Of course, Pellegrini has the benefit of fielding the likes of Sergio Aguero and David Silva, players brought to the club by Mancini but not available to him during those early games.
Mancini inherited a difficult situation. Mark Hughes had spent big money—close to £200 million during his 18 months in charge, as this BBC Sport article details—yet had won just two of the 11 league matches directly before Mancini’s appointment.
City were a shambles defensively under Hughes, and Mancini had the task of reconfiguring City’s approach to matches in order to reduce the number of goals being shipped. Indeed, in the league matches played before the Italian’s arrival that season, they had conceded 20 goals—far from the level expected by a title-challenging side.
Pellegrini has inherited a far better situation given the work of his predecessor, but the biggest difference is City’s much more attack-minded and expansive style of football.
City now press the opposition high up the pitch, and scoring goals and playing attractive football is an absolute priority. It’s a style which has led to big wins over the likes of Newcastle (4-0), Manchester United (4-1), Norwich (7-0) and Tottenham (6-0).
If Pellegrini can figure out a way of getting City to win consistently away from home in the Premier League, they should win the title.
Rob Pollard is Bleacher Report's lead Manchester City correspondent and will be following the club from a Manchester base throughout the 2013-14 season. Follow him on Twitter here @TypicalCity.