5 Things You Might Not Know About Man City Manager Manuel Pellegrini
Manuel Pellegrini has managed in Chile, Ecuador, Argentina, Spain and now England in a management career spanning four decades. In that time, he has built a reputation as one of the shrewdest tacticians around.
His work at Villarreal brought him to the attention of many in Europe, and he has since managed Real Madrid and Malaga before finding himself at Manchester City where he is expected to deliver domestic and European success.
Here, we take a look at five things you may not know about Manuel Pellegrini.
1. He Was a One Club Man
Pellegrini enjoyed a 13-year playing career, spending the entire time at one club: Universidad de Chile (via UEFA). After he played for one of the biggest and most successful clubs in Chilean football, Pellegrini's love affair with the club would continue when he returned to manage them between 1987 and 1990.
A rugged defender, Pellegrini made 451 appearances during his time as a player, but he retired hastily in 1986 when he was beaten to the ball by a young Ivan Zamorano. Of course, Zamorano went on to become a fine player on the world stage, and Pellegrini now admits "Had I known, I might not have quit so soon" (via the Independent).
He demonstrated a loyalty to one club that is rarely seen in modern football. Ryan Giggs, Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher are notable exceptions, but, in a quest for higher salaries and big signing on fees, the majority of players in the modern game move around frequently.
Manuel Pellegrini only ever felt comfortable in the blue of Universidad de Chile.
2. He Has a Degree in Civil Engineering
Pellegrini's nickname is "The Engineer," thanks to him graduating with a degree in Civil Engineering from the Pontificial Catholic University in Chile, and for his ability to build exceptional teams on limited resources.
In 1985, after his retirement from playing, earthquakes in central Chile had damaged many of the country's buildings, and Pellegrini put his engineering knowledge to great use, helping to rebuild some of the area.
The level of detail needed to be a civil engineer appears to have formed his management style which is deeply tactical and exhaustive in its preparation.
3. He Finished 10 Points Ahead of Barcelona
In 2007/08, Pellegrini led his Villarreal side to second place in La Liga, finishing a massive 10 points ahead of Barcelona. It was a remarkable achievement; up there with the great managerial success stories of recent times.
Villarreal are a club incredibly limited in terms of resources, yet Pellegrini had them competing with two of the biggest club sides in world football. He also guided them to the Champions League semi-finals in 2006—a penalty kick away from the final.
Hailing from a provincial town of just 48,000 people, Villarreal had never competed in Europe or at the top end of the La Liga table before his arrival.
4. He Won League Titles in Ecuador and Argentina
Despite the popular refrain amongst British observers of football that Pellegrini is a manager without notable silverware, he in fact managed to secure a league title in Ecuador during his time with LDU Quito, before going on to win the Argentinian Primera Division with both San Lorenzo (2000/01) and River Plate (2002/03).
It is, of course, true that, other than the Intertoto Cup in 2004, his nine-year spell coaching in Spain yielded no trophies, but considering he spent eight of those years managing lesser lights—Villarreal and Malaga—it's hardly a surprise.
5. He Won a Record Points Total at Real Madrid
In 2009, Pellegrini signed a two-year deal with Real Madrid—his biggest managerial appointment to date. They signed Karim Benzema, Kaka, Xabi Alonso and Cristiano Ronaldo, but lost Arjen Robben and Wesley Sneijder who he insisted Madrid should keep.
Interference from above blighted his reign. He had wanted rid of Guti and Raul who were players he saw as wielding too much political power, yet both remained, and an anti-Pellegrini campaign emerged in the newspaper Marca, which many people felt was orchestrated by club president Florentino Perez.
Despite this, he managed to secure 96 points in La Liga, a club record at the time. However, the availability of Jose Mourinho saw Perez sack him after just one season in charge.