Manchester City’s wealthy owners have entrusted Manuel Pellegrini with fulfilling their ambitions of a packed trophy cabinet, appointing the former Malaga manager as the successor to the sacked Roberto Mancini on Friday.
Expectations are high at silverware-hungry City, where runners-up places in the Premier League and FA Cup did not cut the mustard last season, while chief executive Ferran Soriano has said the target is five trophies in the next five years.
“I am delighted to accept this hugely exciting opportunity. The club has a clear vision for success both on and off the pitch and I am committed to making a significant contribution,” Pellegrini, 59, said on the club’s website (www.mcfc.co.uk).
“Everything is in place for Manchester City to continue to be successful and I am excited to be able to work with such a talented squad, the executive team and the board to deliver for fans who are renowned for their steadfast support.”
The Chilean, whose appointment had been widely expected for weeks after Pellegrini said he had a verbal agreement, takes over following Mancini’s dismissal on May 13 after a poor FA Cup final showing against Wigan Athletic.
The 1-0 defeat followed a timid league title defence and second successive Champions League group-stage exit.
As well as seeking to snatch back the Premier League crown from neighbors Manchester United, Pellegrini’s other priority is winning European club soccer’s biggest prize and he thinks he has the experience to make it happen.
“With Malaga I reached the quarter-finals of the Champions League (in their debut season), with Villarreal also the quarter-finals and semi-finals,” Pellegrini, who has signed a three-year deal, said in a video interview on the City website.
“And all my experience I think will be very useful for me here to arrive (in) Manchester, to win the Champions (League), that is my target.”
Pellegrini, known as ‘The Engineer’, has earned himself a reputation for building teams who play attractive, possession-based football which fits in with the style City have sought to play in recent seasons.
“Manuel is a hugely experienced and successful manager with a proven track record,” Chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak said.
“We have been greatly impressed throughout the selection process by his philosophy, his attitude and his commitment to the long term development of Manchester City. I am delighted that he has joined us.”
Before a ball is even kicked, though, one of the former Real Madrid manager’s first tasks will be to make a decision on the future of striker Carlos Tevez.
The Argentine, a former captain before a big fall-out with the club and subsequent reconciliation, has 12 months left on his contract and Pellegrini will need to weigh up whether to sell him, offer a new deal or let him just see out his contract.
He will also need to work out how to get the best back from the likes of David Silva, Yaya Toure and Vincent Kompany, who were instrumental in their league title a year ago but who were often below par last season.
Before they even had their new manager in place, City - backed by their Arab owners - had been busy in the transfer market, bringing in Brazil midfielder Fernandinho from Shakhtar Donetsk and Spain winger Jesus Navas from Sevilla.
Pellegrini, who takes up the post on June 24, brings with him three of his backroom staff from Malaga in assistant Ruben Cousillas, goalkeeping coach Xabier Mancisidor and fitness coach Jose Cabello.
City fans looking for some sense of continuity at a time when title rivals Chelsea and Manchester United have also brought in new managers will take comfort from the fact Brian Kidd is staying on as an assistant.
“He has great football knowledge, knows the league, the players and will be a big part of what we try to achieve,” said Pellegrini, whose English is noticeably more fluent than his Italian predecessor’s.
City, who when Mancini was sacked spoke of developing a ‘holistic approach’ in terms of developing the same concept of attractive football across all their squads from the youth teams to the first XI, see Pellegrini as part of this plan.
“He shares the club’s approach to football and our ambition to achieve on-field success, coordinating with the wider football support teams to ensure natural progression from the academy to senior level,” chief executive Soriano said.
“Manuel is a very experienced coach with a recognized ability to get the most out of his players and build cohesive teams.”
Malaga midfielder Isco, who excelled under Pellegrini, is among the players to be linked in the media with a move to City before the new season starts in August.