Shadow of David Moyes adds to pressure piling on Manuel Pellegrini
Manchester City chairman Khaldoon al Mubarak will make the final decision on the future of Manuel Pellegrini after their defeat at Crystal Palace left the manager with a worse recent record than the form slump which cost David Moyes his job at Manchester United.
City's slide down the Premier League table, coupled with their inability to mount a prolonged assault on any of the three cup competitions this season, has put the former Villarreal, Real Madrid and Malaga manager's position under serious threat.
Although the day-to-day running of the club is the responsibility of the City chief executive, Ferran Soriano, Al Mubarak will decide the fate of Pellegrini - and potentially also that of Soriano and director of football Txiki Begiristain - when he conducts a post-mortem into the club's miserable campaign in Abu Dhabi next month.
While Soriano and Begiristain are understood to favour Pellegrini being given the opportunity to reshape the City squad this summer, concern is growing among the club's hierarchy over the alarming sequence of results that has caused the team to slide from joint top of the Premier League on New Year's Day to fourth position ahead of the trip to third-placed United at Old Trafford on Sunday.
City's 3-0 victory at Old Trafford in March last year proved decisive not only in the club's successful pursuit of the title, but also in terms of Moyes' future as United manager, with the Scot being sacked just a month later.
Worryingly for Pellegrini, his record since the turn of the year is now worse than that of Moyes prior to his dismissal by United.
In the first 16 games of 2014, United won seven, drew two and lost seven of their fixtures under Moyes as they endured the club's worst campaign in over 25 years. But in the 16 games City have played in 2015, they have won six, drawn three and lost seven.
With City having been overtaken by Arsenal and United, Pellegrini is on course to become the first title-winning manager in the Premier League era to guide his team to a finish outside the top three.
While he remains popular and respected behind the scenes at City, the regression of his team has made the Chilean increasingly vulnerable to the sack.
Al Mubarak has previously admitted that his decision to go against his instinct to dismiss Mark Hughes as manager in the summer of 2009 was the wrong one, with the Welshman ultimately replaced by Roberto Mancini six months later.
Garry Cook, City's then chief executive, cited the team's "results trajectory" as a central factor in the decision to replace Hughes and senior figures at the club have already made clear that Pellegrini will be judged on the "progress" made by his team.
Progress has been in short supply, however, with City, who won the League Cup last season, exiting both domestic cup competitions earlier than last year and again being eliminated from the Champions League at the last-16 stage against Barcelona.
The absence of an outstanding candidate to replace Pellegrini (61) is viewed as giving him a potential stay of execution, with Pep Guardiola committed to Bayern Munich for at least one more year and Soriano lukewarm to the prospect of recruiting real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti, who has admirers within City's Abu Dhabi hierarchy. (© Daily Telegraph, London)