When your team spends as much as Manchester City have done in recent years, finishing one whole season without the touch of silverware is often perceived to be – among the most pessimistic of supporters – an unforgivable failure. The days when hard work and determination were enough for the fans to leave the stadium satisfied are seemingly becoming a thing of the past, due to the increased hype and sensation that currently surround the modern game.
With the Citizens being unceremoniously knocked-out of the FA Cup earlier this season, and both the domestic campaign and the Champions League not looking favourable for the Sky Blues either in 2014/15, Manuel Pellegrini is a man under a great deal of pressure, if reports in The Guardian prove true. Several high profile managers may be already being lined up to replace the Chilean at the end of the season, with The Daily Star suggesting former UCL winner and Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez is in the frame.
In light of such a dramatic turn of events in the space of two seasons, just how tenable is Pellegrini’s position at the Etihad? Does he deserve to be sacked if he finishes the campaign entirely trophy-less, or is such a line of thinking premature, a sad indictment of what the game has ultimately become in the modern era?
For those in support of the 61-year-old’s potential sacking, Manchester City’s somewhat indifferent league form this season does in fact act as partial evidence for their bold claims.
Yes, they have pretty much been in decent form throughout the entire 2014/15 campaign. And yes, the Sky Blues still theoretically remain in touching distance of the title if Chelsea produce a major slip up between now and the end of term. But as today’s game is all about winning, and winning with style, Pellegrini’s team will nevertheless be considered failures if they fail to pick up any silverware this season.
The Chilean’s tactics have often been called into question in 2014/15, some of his major stars have simply not lived up to their usual standard, and one too many times Manchester City have looked far too lack-lustre and over confident to be considered worthy of winning anything this year – just cast your mind back to their most recent outing against Burnley if you’re still undecided.
Having said that though, what will become of the English game if clubs think it necessary to sack their manager a mere one year after they successfully won the league title? This demanding attitude simply can’t take hold if the sport is to survive in its purist form – and as Chelsea have displayed through their recent merry-go-round of managerial appointments in recent years – such a notion very rarely comes with the success that it intends. The Blues eventually won the Champions League with Roberto Di Matteo at the helm after-all, an interim boss who was put in place initially on a temporary basis as best.
Manuel Pellegrini should therefore keep his position at Manchester City at the end of the season even if his side finish the campaign completely trophy-less. He deserves time to build whatever he wants to at the club – for that’s what was issued to him upon first becoming City’s boss, and that is therefore what he should justly receive.
If he were to be unceremoniously sacked on the back of one ‘bad’ season however, the game will be that one step closer to turning into somewhat of a joke. Those with the money will seemingly prevail over those with the determination to build and lay the foundations for further success and the Premier League will simply be filled with even more glory hunters than currently make up the English game.
In deciding whether Pellegrini stays or goes, Manchester City are ultimately taking on a great amount of responsibility, whether or not the recently wealthy club realise it.