By Liam Twomey
As he stepped out of the plane which had carried him, loyal assistant Ruben Cousillas and the rest of his backroom staff all the way from Santiago on Sunday and emerged, blinking, into the dazzling Manchester sunshine, Manuel Pellegrini must have swiftly realised that the raincoat that he was wearing was a needless precaution.
For the Manchester City officials who greeted him at the airport, it was a comic yet welcome reminder that their club has hired a man who never allows himself to be unprepared.
Much of Pellegrini's Sunday was spent ambling around the city centre and getting fitted for his club suit at Hugo Boss but, in reality, the business of managing one of the wealthiest and most ambitious clubs in Europe began in earnest before that, as Carlos Tevez finalised his move to Juventus.
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Similar contact has already been made with Gareth Barry and Joleon Lescott – two other members of the City squad facing uncertain futures, although Pellegrini wants to meet all his players in person before any final decisions are made.
Both have just 12 months remaining on their current deals and are considered disposable as City chief executive Ferran Soriano continues his crusade to make the club's wage bill more sustainable and meritocratic. Barry is inclined to see out his final year while Lescott, despite having many friends in the dressing room and his family settled in Manchester, is driven above all else by the desire to make Roy Hodgson's England World Cup squad next summer.
The City hierarchy would allow the pair to leave for as little as £4 million each and new Stoke City boss Mark Hughes is interested in the possibility of linking up with two of his former charges. Another undesirable, Aleksandar Kolarov, is a loan target for Juventus, though the Italian giants' reluctance to commit to an agreement to buy him next summer has thus far proved a stumbling block.
Pellegrini, meanwhile, has already made known his belief that some of City's summer transfer targets are overpriced – most notably Edinson Cavani, whom Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis insists will not leave for a penny less than his £53.7m buyout clause.
City retain a strong interest in the Uruguayan but the new manager's input has led to a widening of the search for attacking reinforcements. Sevilla striker Alvaro Negredo, with his £18m buyout clause, 31 goals in all competitions last term and excellent understanding with Jesus Navas, is an attractive option, while Roberto Soldado and Oscar Cardozo have also been mooted.
Yet the need for a top-class striker may not be quite as dire as some fear. Pellegrini is an avowed admirer of Swedish youngster John Guidetti and looked into the possibility of acquiring him for Malaga. He is expected to be fit for the new season after serious problems with illness and injury and may well be given a chance to prove himself.
Edin Dzeko, too, looks increasingly likely to still be at the Etihad Stadium beyond this summer, after proposals to include him in possible deals for Cavani and Robert Lewandowski proved non-starters. If he is, Pellegrini will fancy his chances of getting the best out of a formidable talent mismanaged and under-utilised by Roberto Mancini.
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In the meantime, Pellegrini will meet the majority of his squad ahead of the start of pre-season training at the end of the week and lay out his philosophy: that his City will look to play the kind of swashbuckling attacking football conjured away from home against Manchester United, Newcastle, Norwich City and almost no-one else last season. It is a message which has the full backing of his superiors and should go down well with a squad which often felt shackled by the natural pragmatism of Mancini.
The first hard yards will be run during City's pre-season tour of South Africa, which commences against Supersport on July 14. Of Pellegrini's key men, only David Silva and Jesus Navas will be excused as they enjoy a three-week rest following their Confederations Cup exertions.
But by the time they kick off the new Premier League season at home to Newcastle on August 17, the aim is for all of City's players to be just like their manager – prepared for anything.
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