Sunday 19 November 2017

Pellegrini: I was offered City job six years ago

Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini poses with a team shirt after his first media conference at Carrington Training Ground
Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini poses with a team shirt after his first media conference at Carrington Training Ground

Andy Hampson

New Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini has revealed he first had chance to take charge at the club six years ago.

City's hierarchy this summer identified Pellegrini as the man they believe is best equipped to help deliver on a stated ambition of winning five trophies in the next five seasons.

Yet he might already have been in place had former owner Thaksin Shinawatra lured him from Villarreal in 2007 before turning to Sven-Goran Eriksson.

And that was not 59-year-old Pellegrini's only brush with the Barclays Premier League, with Liverpool also apparently interested three years ago.

In 2010, after Rafael Benitez left Anfield, Pellegrini was available following his dismissal by Real Madrid but Malaga proved his next destination.

The Chilean, speaking as he was formally unveiled as City's new boss, said: "I had twice chances to arrive here before.

"One was to Manchester City but with the other owners, not these owners.

"Liverpool, I was very near, after Real Madrid, to arrive at Liverpool.

"But for different things, it was not the moment. Now it is the right moment with the right club."

Pellegrini, 59, left Malaga to succeed Roberto Mancini, who was sacked in May just a year after guiding the club to the Premier League title.

The Italian had also won the FA Cup the previous year and still managed to finish runner-up in both competitions last season - only for that not to be deemed good enough.

Pellegrini is not daunted by such lofty expectations, nor by the additional challenges of improving the team's style or helping develop a "holistic" approach to all footballing matters.

He said: "I am not concerned about that.

"I am here, it is not only to win trophies - the Premier League, the FA Cup or the Champions League.

"I am here to work with young players and the professional team.

"Winning trophies is important but it is not just about that."

City have spent close to £45million this summer on two new players in Fernandinho and Jesus Navas and the spending is set to continue with several other players linked.

Yet Pellegrini is well aware the club need to curtail their spending and sustain their strength through their own youth system in the future.

He said: "As a coach, of course we always want immediate success.

"We are trying to have a strong squad in all positions. If that will bring us trophies, perfect - we have more chances to win that way.

"But in the same way we are working with young players and we will continue to.

"It is impossible every year to buy three, four, five players.

"We need a mix with young players. We need to work exactly the same with the under-21s and the first team.

"A lot of things I think will be improved. From what Roberto and all the other coaches of Manchester City have done over the years, we will continue."

Pellegrini and the majority of his squad have now flown to South Africa for the first leg of their summer tour.

They compete in the Barclays Asia Trophy in Hong Kong later this month before playing a tournament in Munich and then facing Arsenal in a friendly in Helsinki.

Their recruitment drive will continue amid the schedule - with a striker a top priority after the recent sale of Carlos Tevez - but Pellegrini is prepared to be patient.

He said: "I am not sure if they can arrive when we are in South Africa and Hong Kong.

"It is important to arrive the players we need, we are not in a hurry. We have different choices and we hope we can get the players we want."

City have made clear their transfer policy is now being driven by director of football Txiki Begiristain but Pellegrini does have input and he was consulted over the signings of Navas and Fernandinho.

He said: "I signed here 15, 20 days ago - one month.

"When I finished the Spanish league with Malaga, when I decided not to stay there and come here, I started talking with Txiki (about) the different things."

Pellegrini has shown his coaching credentials by guiding Villarreal and Malaga to the latter stages of the Champions League but his reputed man-management skills were also attractive.

It was felt there was discord in the dressing room under Mancini.

Pellegrini said: "I don't want to talk about what happened in the past.

"You always have problems sometimes with some players - I had it in the past - but I think we can have very good relations."

Press Association

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