Manchester City's Switch from Mancini to Pellegrini Ultimately a Waste of Time

Phil KeidelContributor IIApril 17, 2014

When Gus Poyet is eating your lunch at the Etihad, reassessment is in order.
When Gus Poyet is eating your lunch at the Etihad, reassessment is in order.Alex Livesey/Getty Images

In the wake of Liverpool 3-2 Manchester City and Manchester City 2-2 Sunderland, the long knives are sure to come out on City boss Manuel Pellegrini now.

It was not that long ago that City supporters were dreaming of a quadruple. Look at the patent absurdity of those dreams in the harsh light of mid-April.

City fielded a weakened side against Wigan Athletic in the FA Cup quarter-final round in hopes of overturning a two-goal deficit at Barcelona in the Champions League days shortly thereafter. They lost both matches and half the quadruple was gone in a matter of days.

Left only with the Premier League to chase once the Champions League pursuit died, Pellegrini's side dropped points in three of their next seven matches—the worst damage coming in a loss at table-topping Liverpool, with honorable mention going to the draw against Sunderland that essentially ended their race.

If the season ended today, City would have the Capital One Cup, a first-round knockout stage exit in the Champions League, a quarter-final loss in the FA Cup and third place in the Premier League to show for Pellegrini's first season as City's manager.

Which begs the question: Why exactly did they fire Roberto Mancini?

Hey, what's that thing in Mancini's left hand?
Hey, what's that thing in Mancini's left hand?Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

The two biggest reasons why City sacked Mancini were supposedly that he did not achieve sufficient results (particularly in the Champions League) and that a player revolt was fomenting.

On the first point, Mancini's last season at City was not appreciably worse than Pellegrini's first at the helm. In 2012-13, City finished second in the Premier League table, reached the FA Cup final, and they did not reach the knockout stage of the Champions League.

Unless you consider the Capital One Cup a significant prize (City's bosses don't), then Pellegrini's results are not appreciably better than what Mancini achieved in the season that cost him his job.

On the second point, while it is swell that Pellegrini's players are not planning a changing room coup, who really cares what the players think of the manager? Football players are paid absurd amounts of money to play their best for whoever calls their number whenever he calls it.

This has been a forgettable season for Kompany and City.
This has been a forgettable season for Kompany and City.Clint Hughes/Getty Images

City's players tacitly demanded a manager whose style suited their collective temperament. Presumably, City's brass gave them Pellegrini in hopes that those players would reward that gesture with performance.

It has not worked out that way. This is what too often happens when you let players dictate who should manage them; they get what they want but do not deliver on the promise of improved play based on a happier side.

None of this is to say that Pellegrini should be fired. That would be a ridiculous action by a club that has professed patience and a desire to improve with calculated decision-making.

In further defense of Pellegrini, the side he inherited was Mancini's side. Only this summer will we know whether Pellegrini really has the vision and the freedom to mold City through the long transfer period into a club capable of playing entertaining football that also wins crucial matches.

All that said, these players Pellegrini underachieved with were not pub leaguers. Plus, City's failures this season were not small failures. They were dire.

Pellegrini's City were undressed by an ultimately underwhelming Barcelona in the Champions League.

They are about to lose the Premier League either to a Liverpool side that did not have Luis Suarez for the first eight games of the league season or to a Chelsea side that does not have a competent striker.

In retrospect, it is possible that all City accomplished this season was wasting another year in the primes of Yaya Toure (30), Pablo Zabaleta (29), Vincent Kompany (28) and David Silva (28). None of them figure to improve in the coming years.

Pellegrini purportedly had five years to win five trophies. Now one must guess that he has four years to do it; if he lasts that long in Manchester.

It is difficult for City fans to reconcile how they felt watching City trounce Newcastle United in the season opener with how they feel today. Pellegrini came to City promising entertaining football.

Were you entertained as City dropped five of six possible points in the past four days with the league title on the line?

And tell me again why City fired Mancini?