Replacing a popular manager was never going to be an easy task, but any doubts about Manuel Pellegrini's ability to improve Manchester City after taking over from Roberto Mancini have been eroded over the six months of his tenure so far.
Mancini brought City their first piece of silverware in 35 years when he won the 2011 FA Cup, before winning the club's first title in 44 years the following season, and was a tough act for to follow, particularly given the City fans' loyalty toward the Italian. But Pellegrini has won over the majority of doubters with his attacking brand of football and, more importantly, some impressive results.
Here we look back on his first half a year in Manchester.
After the debacle of Mancini’s final summer in charge, this one could hardly have been more different. City were swift and aggressive in the transfer market, sealing deals to bring Jesus Navas, Fernandinho, Alvaro Negredo and Stevan Jovetic to the club before the end of July.
It gave Pellegrini a full month to bed his new players in. It was ideal preparation for the new manager, and it made City the envy of many other clubs that were left floundering and struggling to bring players in.
Much of that was down to the work of City’s excellent director of football, Txiki Begiristain, but Pellegrini was clearly consulted to rubber stamp a list of targets, and his judgement has proven to be sound. City have completely revolutionised their squad and attacking capabilities with the addition of the new signings Pellegrini and Begiristain made.
City's preseason games went swimmingly. Their fixture programme saw the quality of opposition increase steadily over the course of a month, and by the end, City looked absolutely prepared for Premier League action.
Current Position: 2nd
City are second in the table and have produced the best football of any side in the division, scoring 57 goals in their 20 matches so far. Some poor results away from home, including defeats to Cardiff and Aston Villa, held them back initially, but their excellent recent form has propelled them to just one point behind leaders Arsenal.
They have won all 10 of their matches at home, including huge wins over Newcastle, Manchester United, Norwich, Tottenham and Arsenal, scoring 38 goals.
It's been an incredible run of results that has demonstrated City's creative ability.
They took 19 points from a possible 21 in December, a run which saw Pellegrini quite rightly named Manager of the Month. He deserves a lot of credit. After those early away defeats, it would have been easy for him to alter his style and play more defensively, but he has stuck with his ethos, and it is now bringing some very handsome rewards.
Group D Qualifying
Final Position: 2nd
Play Barcelona in the last 16. First Leg: Second Leg:
After two seasons of disappointing group stage exits under Mancini, City comfortably made it through to the last 16 this time after five wins in Group D saw them finish second, level on points with Bayern Munich.
The only blot on their copybook was the battering they received from Bayern at the Etihad. The Germans ran out 3-1 winners, but in truth, that scoreline flattered the Blues. Bayern dominated the midfield and made City look average.
The return match, however, brought a famous victory. City played a largely second-string side and won 3-2, almost topping the group. It was City's first big away win against one Europe's top sides since they returned to the competition, and it needs to be used as a catalyst for better things.
On the week of the anniversary of their defeat to York City in 1998, a real low point for the club, they drew Barcelona in their first ever last 16 tie. It will be a tough test, but City must believe in their attacking capabilities. They are certainly capable of causing an upset.
3rd Round: Blackburn Rovers 1-1 City
City kicked off their FA Cup campaign last weekend away at Blackburn. After a tough December and with one eye on their League Cup semi-final match with West Ham four days later, Pellegrini rotated his side heavily, and they were held to a 1-1 draw.
It was a poor showing, but they emerged from the match still in the draw. A replay at home should be a formality, and they will host Watford or Bristol City in the fourth round if they win.
3rd Round: City 5-0 Wigan
4th Round: Newcastle 0-2 City
QF: Leicester 1-3 City
SF 1st Leg: City 6-0 West Ham
(Second Leg to be played Tuesday)
City's progress in the League Cup has been serene, and it could prove to be a very important competition for them this season. They are well on their way to Wembley after Wednesday's 6-0 win over West Ham in the first leg of their semi-final, giving them a real opportunity to win a trophy after a barren season in 2012/13.
It's also a chance for Pellegrini to win his major trophy at the club.
They started with a fabulous win over Wigan, a game which saw Stevan Jovetic make a rare appearance, and he scored two and looked excellent. The next round saw them win away at Newcastle after extra time, before a comfortable win at Leicester saw them move into the last four.
The midweek thrashing of West Ham means they can now rest players in the return game and still be sure of their place in the final.
Manuel Pellegrini's first six months in charge of Manchester City have been a huge success. His commitment to an attacking style has ushered in an era of free-flowing football, and it's fantastic to watch. They've scored 92 goals in 31 matches under the Chilean.
Fighting on four fronts and with players in form, you wouldn't be against them winning at least one trophy in Pellegrini's debut season as manager.
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.
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