The news that Manuel Pellegrini will humbly vacate his Manchester City post to make way for Pep Guardiola has prompted widespread praise for the Chilean, whose conduct and managerial record should have a certain club owner reaching for the receiver.
Roman Abramovich, aka Chelsea’s uber-wealthy Russian owner, has presided over several stormy periods in his time hiring and firing at Stamford Bridge, but the present campaign arguably takes the biscuit.
A totally shambolic Premier League title defence, characterised by a toxic dressing room under Jose Mourinho, eventually prompted Abramovich to let the Special One go, even in spite of his record as the most successful manager in Chelsea history.
Tried and tested interim boss Guus Hiddink has stepped into the breach as short-term fix, although the affable Dutchman is not viewed as a longer-term replacement for Mourinho.
Pellegrini most definitely should be. With his City side just three points off Leicester’s top-flight pace, poised to contest the Capital One Cup final again, alive in the FA Cup and in the most favourable Champions League knockout position since the club’s takeover, the Chilean may yet leave behind an even greater legacy than the one he has already carved.
The former Real Madrid head coach has brought the English crown and a League Cup to the Etihad and although he has been spoiled in terms of resources, the attacking style in which trophies have been won can only have impressed Abramovich – a known lover of expansive football.
An even greater magnetism exists by virtue of the adoration his City players feel for him. For all Mourinho’s tactical nous, Abramovich knew from experience that the Portuguese’s abrasive personality was a potential tinderbox.
Pellegrini’s demeanour couldn’t be more different. Whereas a breakdown in relations with some of his players ultimately cost Mourinho, England goalkeeper Joe Hart’s recent comments shed light on the esteem City’s boss is held in.
“It was never going to be a distraction. “We’re here to win titles, Manuel’s here to win titles,” said Hart. “We back him, we love him as our manager.”
By agreeing to go so quietly at the end of his original three-year contract, the 62-year-old’s apparent subservience to City’s owners must appeal like an ice cream on a sweltering day to Chelsea’s proprietor.
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