Following their ouster from Europe, Goal’s Rahul Bali suggests that the Chilean manager must be assessed on where they finish on the Premier League table…
Manchester City are Champions League novices. It is only their third season in top flight European competition and the first time they entered the knockout stages. While a sizeable number of critics would like to suggest that the amount of investment the club has had must be directly proportional to progress in the Champions League citing Chelsea’s case, the fact is that despite the star names present at City, only Yaya Toure has won the Holy Grail in his career. Roberto Mancini’s failings in Europe are well documented while Manuel Pellegrini has only won the Capital One Cup during his stint in the continent.
Compare that to Chelsea of the past and they had several winners in their expensively assembled squad in Paulo Ferreira, Ricardo Carvalho and of course, Jose Mourinho. By the time they won the competition, they had plenty of players who had the experience and know-how to grind out results in Europe.
In the last eight editions of Champions League, Chelsea were the only exceptions to have won the trophy without having anyone in their squad or technical staff who has won the competition in the past.
European football is a different ball game altogether, something which City would surely testify to. You wouldn’t see them committing eleven fouls in the opening 25 minutes in the Premier League. The tactical acumen of Jose Mourinho, Sir Alex Ferguson and even to some extent Rafael Benitez has reaped rewards for their respective English teams in Europe.
The Citizens will look to gain a few lessons from the 4-1 (aggregate) defeat to Barcelona and some of it would aid them next term.
However, it cannot be denied that their form is in decline. In their last five outings in all competitions, they have won just twice. Their defeat against Wigan Athletic was easily their poorest display all season.
An area which has come to the fore on countless occasions is City’s inability to replace Vincent Kompany or even find a decent partner for him. Matija Nastasic has too many injury concerns; Joleon Lescott pretty much summed up his case with his performance at Camp Nou where he was guilty of allowing Lionel Messi to score and could have also conceded a penalty.
Martin Demichelis, the most experienced of them all, is the most error-prone with City fans growing tired of his weary displays which have come to hurt them on many occasions.
Until the end of January, City were in swashbuckling form. Pellegrini even spoke of winning the quadruple and said, “It's difficult [to win all four] but we'll try.” However, the experienced Toure, who had won the treble with Barcelona, warned his team-mates as early as last week by stating that they do not need to look any further than the next game in their quest for the quadruple.
City have scored 69 goals in the Premier League this season and are second only to Liverpool (73) in the scoring department but do have three games in hand and are expected to overtake the Anfield-based outfit.
Mourinho's Chelsea are defensively better than City
The important statistic is that they have the second meanest defense in the Premier League with 27 goals, bettered only by Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea (22). City have only 10 cleansheets when compared to Chelsea’s 13.
It must be noted that when Pellegrini last came close to winning a league title, his Real Madrid side had outscored Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona by four goals but had conceded 11 more and still had the second best defense.
“Second place is just the first loser. If Madrid were to fire me, I wouldn't go to Malaga. I'd go to a top-level team in Italy or England,” Mourinho said of Pellegrini while at Madrid.
Pellegrini responded by stating,"I don't like coaches who are only interested in results. The concepts of spectacle and creativity and fundamental to me.”
Mourinho altered his tactics following the Capital One Cup exit as his side succumbed to a 2-1 defeat to Sunderland despite being the dominant side with more possession. He mentioned, “Football is about getting results.”
The personalities of the two managers couldn’t be more different.
City have the Premier League to fight for. They need to regroup and get back to the energetic, high intensity football. If they do suffer the psychological dip after being ousted from two competitions, Pellegrini or ‘The Engineer’ would have failed in his task.
And as Gary Neville rightly said during the Barcelona-City clash at Camp Nou, Pellegrini will be judged on how he fares domestically.
The Premier League is where City needs to prove their mettle.
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