This season has seen an exponential rise in criticism towards the managers in the English Premier League; Jose Mourinho at Chelsea, Louis Van Gaal at Manchester United and Brenden Rodgers at Liverpool, all due to different yet valid reasons. Manuel Pellegrini somehow always manages to escape the standards set for his fellow colleagues. Perhaps because the Chilean isn’t as outspoken as the rest.
Before the season began, it seemed as if Manchester City had gathered all the extra resources in signing Fernando, Mangala and Sagna to retain the Premier League crown for yet another edition. Keeping that in mind, they haven’t particularly delivered.
Manuel Pellegrini has remained faithful to the traditional 4-4-2 formation and perhaps that has been the cause of concern for their lack of convincing performances. His quest to play expansive, entertaining and attacking football is canceled out by the fact that they have trailed thirteen times at half-time and managed a positive result on three times. After analysing the losses – one aspect remained constant; failure of coming up with a strategic plan to beat the opposition. When that happens, you commit men forward and get caught out. The trend has followed from the league to domestic competitions and across Europe.
Manchester City struggled in Champions League but luckily managed to scrap past the group stages. After a shocking loss against CSKA Moscow which sent them bottom of the group with two games remaining, CSKA Moscow defender Pontus Wernbloom has been quoted as saying: “We knew that they were going to come against us with big numbers and we knew [as a result] that they are vulnerable in the counter-attacks.” – indicating a real sense of a lack of an alternative plan and the recycling of same methods week in, week out. Later in UEFA Champions League fixtures, John Dillon wrote in the express that Manuel Pellegrini’s decision to play 4-4-2 against AS Roma at the Etihad was both ‘naive and outdated’.
Facing FC Barcelona, Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini stuck with the same 4-4-2 formation with a front-line of Edin Dzeko and Sergio Aguero. And for the majority of the game Manchester City were outplayed and consequently came out second best. Had it not been down to Messi’s missed penalty in the last minute of the added time – the tie would have well and truly been over. Yet another example of managerial stubbornness which is holding them off and stopping any real progression in the blue half of Manchester.
That being said and discussed, another issue Manchester City have faced this season is the absence of some of their key players in the squad, but of course this is a problem which most teams face on an annual basis. Well again, the concern lies at the feet of Manuel Pellegrini. How so, you might ask? Well, due to the failure of integrating a system which continues to flourish without being too overly dependent on likes of David Silva, Yaya Toure and the prolific if not sometimes inconsistent Sergio Aguero.
It’s fair to claim that every team has certain players without whom the team does not function properly but given the resources Manchester City have gathered in the past five years, the argument nullifies itself. Have a look at the teams below:
Wilfred Bony replaced Negredo in the squad, Nastasic on-loan, replaced by Boyata
Stevan Jovetic recently claimed that Manuel Pellegrini has ruined his career and rightly so as whenever he has come on he has looked both sharp and agile. Instead he was dropped from the UEFA Champions League squad to accommodate the new signing of Wilfred Bony from Swansea. And in all honesty, a player cannot simply stamp his authority unless the manager shows faith in him when you least expect him to and ultimately, this is a saga which has spread negativity in the dressing room as claimed by multiple media outlets.
In consideration of their most important peg of the unit, Yaya Toure. The Ivorian missed seven games since he left for 2015 African Cup of Nations and lifted the trophy ending the Ivory Coast’s twenty three year wait. Yet despite Toure’s success away from the Etihad, in those seven games missed by the Ivorian stalwart, City managed only one win, and it must be a joy for the opposition whenever Toure’s name does not appear on the team-sheet. Although he was highly and somewhat prematurely criticised for having a slow start to the season, his absence highlighted his true importance and did a lot to shut quite a few people up who were laying the blame at his feet in the early stages of the 2014/15 season.
But we must ask, with Toure’s quality missing from the squad, what has the new arrival Fernando done to undermine such a drastic affect? It is irrational to criticise overseas players playing in English Premier League in their first season, but inevitably massive price-tags and equally as big wage bills consequently attract much higher expectations.
Therefore the absence of Toure, of Silva and of Aguero left Manchester City in unknown and unchartered territory, as those three form the strong backbone of the team on a regular basis. And with the defence under performing and looking fragile, they have looked extremely shaky and easy to exploit. Their resources have ultimately not been utilised to the fullest and that as a result has hindered their performances both home and away.
Shiekh Mansour bought Manchester City with a quest and a vision to replicate Roman Abramovich’s Chelsea but instead, Chelsea now are everything Manchester City dreamt of in the first place. From a grassroots level, they certainly haven’t had the desired influx of players they’d have wished for although the new arrival of the £200M City Football Academy may work hard to alter this for the future. But at this moment in time the senior squad has seen no inclusion of new home-grown players; the ideology of quality brought to the team through splashing cash continues.
Eighty acre site, highlighted in red includes sixteen training pitches and a seven thousand seater stadium for both youth and reserves team games
The plan from Sheikh Mansour’s objectives was similar to that of Bayern Munich; to build a management which has top class experience and has first-hand knowledge of the game itself. Hence the recruitment of Ferran Soriano and Txiki Begiristain from Barcelona FC but even so, the club is lacking direction. The resources are undoubtedly there at the club and this is very clear to see, but Manchester City are lacking a commanding figure such as Alex Ferguson – who can hold off the entire board and still deliver.
Under Manuel Pellegrini, Manchester City were found guilty for breaching the FFP regulations and consequently fined £49M and given restrictions on transfer spending and a reduction in Champions League squad size. In other words, The Citizens have made crucial signing but all in the peak of their career, which has now left them with an aging squad and hence without resale value. Therefore, it looks more and more obvious Manchester City struggle and are often unable to raise funds needed to reinvest on squad without breaking FFP rules. Manchester City have only once recorded a sale of more than £20M (Shaun Wright Phillips in 2005 for £21M) – once! Comparing that to Mourinho’s transfer dealings in last two years, the difference is clear for everyone to see.
To sum everything up, Manuel Pellegrini has done little reinstate the reputation of the club with the resources and funds provided to him. In light of Marcello Lippi’s philosophy of the game, it highlights half of the problems faced by Manchester City:
“A group of best players do not necessarily make for the best team.”
The other half? Lack of creativity, diversity and adaptability on Pellegrini’s part.
Article written by: @TacticallyInept