Posts Tagged ‘Manuel Pellegrini’

Analysis: Leicester change landscape as TV cash flood looms

While the feats of Jamie Vardy (£1 million), Riyad Mahrez (£400,000) and N’Golo Kanté (£5.6 million) demonstrated a new way of spending, Leicester’s football revealed a different way of winning. In an age when many teams continue to worship at the altar of tiki-taka, Claudio Ranieri’s well-drilled, hard-running side averaged 44.8 percent of possession — the third-lowest in the league — and had a pass completion rate of 70.5 percent — the league’s second-lowest. With Tottenham Hotspur, another high-intensity team, challenging for the title under the inspirational Mauricio Pochettino, Football Association chairman Greg Dyke was moved to exclaim: “The old order has broken.” The Professional Footballers’ Association Team of the Year told its own story, with Leicester and Tottenham contributing four players each. Excepting Harry Kane, the division’s 25-goal top scorer, who came through Tottenham’s youth system, all were signed for fees dwarfed by the £49 million that City spent on Raheem Sterling.

In my review of the Premier League season, I wrote about how Leicester City’s fairytale title triumph has moved the goalposts in English football. You can read it here.

Analysis: Meek Man City cry out for Guardiola guidance

But at least in Agüero, De Bruyne, Sterling and the injured David Silva, Guardiola possesses the nimbleness of thought and foot in attack upon which he has built success with Barcelona and Bayern Munich. City have been the top-scoring Premier League team in all three of Pellegrini’s seasons at the helm, but although he loudly espouses attacking football, victories often owe more to flashes of individual brilliance than a cohesive, identifiable attacking strategy. There is also work for Guardiola to do in defence, particularly as captain Vincent Kompany’s physical vulnerability — he succumbed to the 33rd injury of his eight-year City tenure in Madrid — is becoming a serious concern. Neither Nicolás Otamendi nor Eliaquim Mangala, both acquired at lavish expense, have convinced, but Guardiola’s work with Javi Martínez — a holding midfielder turned centre-back — at Bayern shows that he has the patience for defensive grunt work on the training ground.

Following Manchester City’s tame Champions League semi-final defeat by Real Madrid, some thoughts on the task awaiting Pep Guardiola at the Etihad Stadium.

Analysis: Man City breakthrough shows Pellegrini still punching

An urbane, understated figure, Pellegrini has already brought one Premier League title and two League Cups to the Etihad Stadium, but although it took the might of Barcelona to oust City from the Champions League in his first two seasons, he has been seen as something of a tactical ingenu. Pellegrini, it was said, was too closely wedded to attacking football to achieve success in Europe, but the manner of the triumph over PSG showed that City could play on the front foot in the Champions League, and prosper. City were sloppy defensively in the first leg, but scored opportunistic away goals through Kevin De Bruyne and Fernandinho, and their reward for refusing to sit on their advantage in Tuesday’s return leg was the 76th-minute De Bruyne strike that sealed a 3-2 aggregate win. That PSG were their last-eight victims was rich in symbolism — the other club buoyed by vast Middle Eastern wealth, already French champions and supposedly several developmental stages ahead of City, sent back to Paris with their tails between their legs.

A piece for AFP on a night of personal vindication for Manuel Pellegrini.

Analysis: Man City déjà vu leaves Pellegrini exposed

“Having snatched the crown from Manchester United’s grasp on the final day of the 2011-12 campaign, City stagnated and finished the following season 11 points adrift of their derby rivals in second place. Manager Roberto Mancini paid the price with his job, sacked two days after a shock defeat by Wigan Athletic in the FA Cup final, and a similar fate may lie in store for Pellegrini. Heralded as the antithesis to the spiky and combative Mancini, the urbane Chilean steered the club to a league and League Cup double in his first season. But Pellegrini’s position now appears under serious threat, with British bookmakers offering odds of 2/7 that he will no longer be at the helm on the opening day of next season.”

Who is to blame for Manchester City’s failure to defend the Premier League title? Some thoughts in this piece for AFP.

Review: New money rises in England as old powers slip

“Manchester City and Chelsea, England’s nouveaux riches, appear poised to dominate the Premier League in 2015, with traditional powerhouses Manchester United and Liverpool working their way through periods of transition. United began this year as champions and Liverpool came agonisingly close to succeeding them, but it was City who prevailed in the 2013-14 title race and it is Chelsea who approach the New Year in pole position.”

My AFP review of the year 2014 in the Premier League can be read here.

Report: Man City stroll to Premier League title

“London (AFP) – Manchester City secured a second Premier League title in three seasons by comfortably defeating West Ham United 2-0 at a jubilant Etihad Stadium on Sunday.”

My AFP report on the final day of the 2013-14 Premier League season can be read here.

Analysis: Man City out-punch rivals to Premier League glory
Review: Liverpool slips allow Man City to succeed United

Report: Džeko sends 100-goal City to brink of title

“Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Manchester City are within touching distance of the Premier League title after overwhelming Aston Villa 4-0 on Wednesday to close to within a point of the championship.”

My AFP match report from a soggy but satisfied Etihad Stadium can be read here.

Reaction: Manchester City will be worthy champions, says Pellegrini

Report: Liverpool beat Man City in title crunch clash

Liverpool, United Kingdom (AFP) – Philippe Coutinho’s 78th-minute winner gave Liverpool a crucial 3-2 victory over Premier League title rivals Manchester City on a day of raw emotion at Anfield on Sunday.”

My AFP match report on an emotional and unforgettable afternoon at Anfield can be read here.

Reaction: Tearful Gerrard calls for Liverpool focus

Report: Džeko downs United to give City derby spoils

“Manchester (United Kingdom) — Manchester City snuffed out Manchester United’s recent revival and closed on Premier League leaders Chelsea as Edin Dzeko scored twice in a 3-0 victory at Old Trafford on Tuesday.”

My AFP match report on a night when the mood changed at Old Trafford can be read here.

Reaction: Rebuilding United will take time, warns Moyes
Analysis: Moyes faces backlash after United derby woe

Report: Touré, Nasri blasts bring Man City League Cup joy

“London — Sensational quick-fire goals by Yaya Touré and Samir Nasri inspired Manchester City to come from behind and beat Sunderland 3-1 in the League Cup final at Wembley on Sunday.”

My AFP match report on a Wembley afternoon illuminated by two magnificent strikes can be read here.

Reaction: League Cup triumph whets Man City’s appetite

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