Mourinho is coming, but could Pellegrini make sense at Old Trafford?

February 14, 2016 Tags: , Reads 15 comments
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Manuel Pellegrini is headed for the unemployment line. The ink isn’t dry on the Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City deal and the Chilean is out of a job when the Catalan begins work in June. With Manchester City’s last two performances it seems Pellegrini’s players have already checked out on him. It begs the question, with a fine managerial record behind him, where next for the affable Pellegrini; and could an unlikely move across the other side of Manchester benefit all?

Turning 63 in September, the former Real Madrid boss is likely to seek out one last job before heading into retirement after stints at the Bernabéu, Villarreal and Málaga. Pellegrini’s tenure with El Submarino Amarillo was a successful one – in his final campaign with the Valencian club he led them to a record setting second place.

Pellegrini’s record drew the attention of Florentino Pérez, who made the Chillean Real’s new manager in his second spell as Club President. Pellegrini oversaw Pérez’ record-setting expenditure as Kaká, Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Xabi Alonso arrived in the summer of 2009.

Despite achieving a record points total of 96 over the campaign, Pellegrini was relieved of his duties after finishing second to Barcelona. Los Merengues also under performed in the Champions League, being eliminated in the round of 16 by Lyon. The Chilean was left frustrated at not being able to build a balanced side in the era of Galaticos.

“I didn’t have a voice or a vote at Madrid. They sign the best players, but not the best players needed in a certain position,” he said.

“It’s no good having an orchestra with the 10 best guitarists if I don’t have a pianist. Real Madrid have the best guitarists, but if I ask them to play the piano they won’t be able to do it so well. Pérez sold players that I considered important. We didn’t win the Champions League because we didn’t have a squad properly structured to be able to win it.”

It is a sentiment with relevance to any chance of success on the red side of Manchester. Ed Woodward’s policy of trying to sign the world’s best players, whilst ignoring the team’s actual needs, might not please Pellegrini in the unlikely event he winds up at Old Trafford in the summer. The Chilean has operated best when he is able to build a team of his own making, something he might not be able to do at Old Trafford.

The thought of a City “reject” arriving at Old Trafford for infuriate many. The “noisy neighbours” tag – Sir Alex Ferguson’s terse dismissal of City’s rise – is at risk of swapping over from City to United with the arrival of Guardiola at the Etihad. Signing Pellegrini could be the final nail in that proverbial coffin. There is seemingly too much pride at stake for that to happen.

The imminent arrival of José Mourinho puts the concept of Pellegrini swapping Blue for Red in further doubt, of course. It now seems inevitable that Boardroom apprehension about appointing the former Chelsea boss will eventually subside, not least because of how fast Louis van Gaal’s team is sinking, and Mourinho will take over in June.

What Mourinho’s appointment means for Ryan Giggs remains to be seen, but the Welshman looks an unlikely candidate for the top job. United simply cannot take a risk on an unproven manager.

"With options running low, and Mauricio Pochettino perhaps not experienced enough to be a true contender, the position is increasingly likely to be Mourinho’s. But does Pellegrini have a case?"

After all, its not as if the veteran’s sides at City have been short of entertainment or success. Despite suffering some difficult draws in the Champions League, his side has consistently entertained in domestic competition. The Blues scored 100 goals in just 34 games in 2013/14, surpassing the record Chelsea set the season before – in eight fewer matches. Pellegrini has always found a way to attack, harnessing the best of Sergio Aguero, David Silva, Kevin De Bruyne and company.

He is also focused on the long-term, once noting that he is not “interested in external ego but internal satisfaction. I’m not interested just in easy glory but in constructing something. Together we are trying to build a project that is not just short-term.”

Yet, his City side is also been tactically predictable, with Pellegrini often deploying the same system with the same strategy whatever the opposition. And given the vastly talented squad at his disposal, and the huge investment the Abu Dhabi regime has made, entertainment is the least Pellegrini should have delivered. The team has underachieved this season considering that City has the best squad in the Premier League. The title should be Pellegrini’s to lose given that rivals have struggled.

There might be far too many external factors that stop United from considering Pellegrini as a viable candidate in the summer, but there are a few reasons why Ed Woodward should not be too quick to dismiss the Chilean’s candidacy too. Pellegrini provides attacking football, wants to build a balanced team, and is open to deploying youth.

Yet, Pellegrini’s past, his lack of tactical variety, and United’s pride likely means that his next job will not be in the same city he resides in now.


Pramod - February 14, 2016 Reply


Dan Millington - February 14, 2016 Reply

WTF you been smoking?

Pramod - February 14, 2016 Reply

good article, but going for a city reject, will make us an even more of a laughing stock than we r now.

Erik Hörnberg - February 14, 2016 Reply

good read

Psycho syd - February 14, 2016 Reply

Very well written article and I agree that Pellegrini will have most clubs considering him as the next potential boss. One thing is for sure he plays exciting attacking football which is something that has been missing at United in recent times hence the attack attack attack chants. Be interesting to see who United employ next or will the stick with LVG? By the way I am a blue Manc having followed City since 65 so have seen some pretty dire times too. Good luck

Ryan - February 14, 2016 Reply

pelligrini is a more sophisticated, Chilean version of Kevin Keegan.

Sam Evanson - February 14, 2016 Reply

writer’s block

Joe Brady - February 14, 2016 Reply

What has our great club come to when we would take a city reject and the human scum that is Mourinho?😔

Fusilli Jerry - February 14, 2016 Reply

If I thought Pellegrini would do a better and quicker job rebuilding United than Mourinho I’d want him in, but the Chilean doesn’t pass that test for me. Mourinho’s made some well-documented mistakes in who he’s let go, but I don’t recall him ever sanctioning £40m outlays for flops as spectacular as Eliaquim Mangala. If Pellegrini had no say in transfers at Madrid, perhaps that was just as well for the Spanish club.

I saw someone suggest on a thread yesterday that Mourinho will stand up to Woodward’s player recruitment policy. (That’s a policy predicated on providing famous names to commercial partners needing to grow market share for soft drinks in Nigeria and shampoo in Singapore, rather than providing players capable of collecting 3 points at St. Mary’s and Selhurst Park.) This raises a tantalising prospect for Manchester United: transfer decisions made for football reasons by a football man.

The thought of Mendes makes me nervous: he’s screwed United over repeatedly in the past. But we’re nowhere near top of the list of destination clubs for the calibre of player we need – a situation made so much worse now by the disturbing combination of Abu Dhabi’s billions and Guardiola’s pulling power – so maybe handing the keys to United to a super agent whose clients will go where he tells them, isn’t the worst of our worries. For every Mata happy to come and rub shoulders with students and hipsters in the Northern Quarter, and write blog posts on the latest hang at the Whitworth, there a thousand Tevez and Di Mari-types requiring more varied luxury shopping and lunching options for their non-English speaking WAGS than Spinningfields and 2 mini-Selfridges can provide. City can overcome such recruitment barriers now, but our own ability to attract top talent is not such that the path back to being Manchester United any time soon, will feature the Neymars and Bales whose supposedly imminent arrival Woodward so tediously spins to prospective tyre partners in Indonesia.

The wreckage left by van Gaal is to my mind much worse than anything Moyes could have contrived given the same time and money. The following squad members all need to be replaced with upgrades not in their 30’s or looking to win the Louis Saha-Daniel Sturridge Award for not being available for selection: Jones, Carrick, Schweinsteiger, Fellaini, Valencia, Young, Depay, Rooney. Perhaps too much to expect Mourinho to jettison the last of those, given his attempts to take our captain to Stamford Bridge the year Bobby Charlton thought David Moyes’s 11 trophy-free seasons at Everton made that manager a better bet than the Portuguese, what with his 2 Champions Leagues, but the speed and efficiency of what Mourinho achieved at Inter and Chelsea particularly, can give cause for a little optimism.

I don’t give weight to Rant Cast’s repeated references to how short-lived his constructions have been. The fact that Inter, for example, employed the Fat Spanish Waiter to quickly bring their club back down to earth, surely underlines rather than dilutes the over-achievement of Mourinho having delivered the Champions League to the San Siro.

Given where we are, our reduced options and reduced circumstances – bring it on. Just so long as there are no pretty female doctors to inspire idiot levels of dressing room-losing vindictiveness.

Denton Davey - February 14, 2016 Reply

I like the way you’ve added vitriol to the spice to deflate the anti-Jo$e sentiments.

Kevin - February 15, 2016 Reply

Sense and logic. But Mourinho isn’t the man. Neither is Pelligrini. The change has to come in building a football team not a Marketer’s Roll Call. That might not happen until the Glazers sell and that could be years.

Dazza2501 - February 15, 2016 Reply

United are at a real crossroads, and although you can pick through the wreckage of Moyes & LVGs regimes it’s Woodward and the board who have screwed up both appointments and the structure of the club. Whilst I don’t doubt Woodwards ability to generate money for the club on the football side of things, somewhere , a village is missing an idiot. Given how fraught this season has been it is staggering they failed to even approach Guardiola, a coach who oozes much of what United stand for. It is clear LVG won’t last and Woodwards dithering leaves a choice of Mourinho Giggs or Pochetino. Although there is much of Mourinho that can grate, I think he can work at United as long as a director of football, to build up the structure and longer term improvement of the club can go on. He could also be used to negotiate transfers, as Ed prefers to do it via the back page of the Sun. Although romantically Giggs is a great option he needs to prove himself as the actual boss elsewhere. Pochetino , has promise but hasn’t bagged a trophy yet . It all points to Jose. He is no doubt keen to renew his rivalry with Pep and has the chance to prove to Abramovich he was wrong to sack him..hopefully Jose has learnt from previous mistakes. Pellegrini doesn’t excude the Sam.e comfidence I’m afraid

Subterranean Steve - February 15, 2016 Reply

Readable article but tomorrow’s fish and chip wrapper. I have some time for Pellegrini but there’s no chance he will be O.T. bound.

Terry Golden - February 15, 2016 Reply

would much rather have Pochettino if we can get him

drib - February 15, 2016 Reply

absolutely fucking not poor manager

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