By Victor Vago
Malaga striker Roque Santa Cruz insists Manuel Pellegrini is the ideal candidate to succeed Roberto Mancini as Manchester City manager.
Pellegrini is expected to be confirmed as Mancini’s successor after the Italian was sacked earlier this week following last weekend’s dismal FA Cup final defeat at the hands of relegated Wigan.
Despite failing to win any silverware during his nine-year stay in Spain, Pellegrini has earned plaudits during spells with Villarreal, Real Madrid and Malaga, whom he guided to the last eight of the Champions League this season, and Santa Cruz believes the 59-year-old will prove a hit at the Etihad Stadium.
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"He would certainly be up to it. He has a lot of merits. Although he didn’t win anything when he was coach of Real Madrid, they got 96 points and normally that would have been enough to win it. He’s been doing a very good job and this would be a good opportunity for him, if it’s confirmed.
"With the situation at Malaga, there’s a strong possibility he will leave. He can’t continue and will look for another club. Apart from the financial issues at the club, he understood that the club would have greater ambitions, but the owner has been distancing himself from the club and shown less interest than he expected.
"If a move to City is confirmed, it will be a very important step in his career. He will be able to compete for more important aims, in a big league, and with the players they have at City with their strong squad."
Mancini was unceremoniously sacked a year on from leading City to their first league title in 44 years but a failure to build on that success, coupled with a number of public bust ups with several of his most high-profile players, resulted in him losing his job.
"I think City have some 25 players in their squad. Not everyone is happy. If they’re not playing, they always depend on playing more. That’s not a bad thing. Everyone wants to improve, there’s big competition for places. Anyone can have a disagreement with their boss, but that’s not a reason to have a bad relationship with him," Santa Cruz added.
"I’m not surprised about Mancini’s leaving. The club have their ambitions, their spending is linked to the ambitions of their owners.
"After not winning anything this season, it was a difficult situation. But after all the things he won at City, three trophies, including their first league title in so many years, you have to consider he did a great job. He’s had to go because of the ambitions of the owners."