With the Deadline Day announcement that Pep Guardiola will replace Manuel Pellegrini at the end of the current season, a number of people have given their support for the vacating manager. Whilst it seems harsh on Pellegrini to announce that he will not be kept on past the end of the season in January of said season, this is all part of a bigger plan.
There has been no doubt to the intentions of Manchester City ever since the Abu Dhabi group took over in 2008; to take a seat at the top table, to be mentioned in the same breath as Barcelona, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich. To get to this top level is difficult enough, to stay there requires an infrastructure and a base that is at the cutting edge. City have tried a couple of different approaches in recent years to get to this ‘table’; everyone remembers their “throw a ton of money at players, so they will come and play for us” phase, which was kicked off with the deadline day signing of Robinho for a then British record of £32.5m in 2008. They’ve moved away from this tactic; and rightly so, in recent years. 2012 was a crucial year for the growth of Man City and a telling for their aims moving forward.
So what happened in 2012 that made it a crucial year? Manchester City won their first Premier League title with a dramatic final day victory against QPR under manager Roberto Mancini. The city academy achieved the requirements for Category 1 status set out by the Premier League’s Elite Player Performance Plan. Guardiola announced he would be leaving Barcelona at the end of the season and would take a sabbatical. Manchester City appointed former Barcelona men Ferran Soriano as CEO, and Txiki Begiristain as the Director of Football.
It’s clear that the owners of Manchester City had seen the success at Barcelona, and decided they would do it their way. They improved their academy and training facilities, realising that for long term success you need an academy that churns out world class talent playing to the club’s philosophy; similar to La Masia (Barcelona’s Academy). A board that understands the finances of football and the people involved in the environment; cue Soriano and Begiristain. At Barcelona Soriano increased Barcelona’s revenue from €123m to €308m, while turning a €73m loss into a €88m profit. It is however believed that one of the main tasks for Begiristain and Soriano was to attract Pep. During his sabbatical Guardiola was obviously attracting a lot of attention from big clubs, with Man City and Bayern Munich the front runners. In the end Pep decided to go with the German giants and with Mancini failing to not only retain the League in 12/13, but failing to keep pace with United as they had won the league by April; City went with Manuel Pellegrini. Given all this it is hard to see Pellegrini as anything other than a place holder for Pep, and with the news that he has been aware of the recent announcement for over a month it all kind of makes sense.
Should you feel sorry for Pellegrini though? When he was given the job by Soriano his target was 5 trophies in 5 seasons, despite being given only a 3-year contract. He has currently achieved 2 titles in his 2 and a half season with the club, and they’re in the final of the capital one cup, one of only two clubs realistically challenging for the League, and still in both the FA Cup and the Champions League. So theoretically he could achieve 5 titles in 3 seasons. So you could argue that Pellegrini has been harshly treated. However, I feel it would be ridiculous to assume that Pellegrini had no idea about the approaches/interest for Pep, and he was probably fully aware that Pep was always their number one. Furthermore, Pep Guardiola is arguably the best manager in world football (if not definitely in the top 3), Pellegrini isn’t. So if you’re a club that has aspirations to be one of the top clubs in the world, you should have people in key roles that are top 3 in their respective fields. If Messi somehow became available, Man City would move whoever they needed to so they could accommodate him, Guardiola is the Messi of management.
All in all, I think Manchester City are a club that knows what they want and goes about their business in a very effective and well thought out way. I believe that Pellegrini was aware of the Pep situation, and was arguably helped by City as they gave him a one-year extension meaning he had a fall back answer to any question about his future. Finally, I whole-heartedly believe that Pep will be a success in his tenure at Manchester City. We can now only hope that Mourinho goes to United so we can see them clash in Manchester derbies.
Let me know what you think about the whole situation.
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