Can't quite make my mind up about Manuel Pellegrini

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Am I the only person who can’t quite make my mind up about Manuel Pellegrini? Is it still too early to have a meaningful view? Does he need more time to settle into the pace and passion of the Premier League? Are City moving forward under the Chilean?

I sat at Friday’s press conference, ahead of the Spurs game, watching a man who clearly doesn’t want to be talking to the media, who are of course a conduit to the fans. He’s doesn’t talk to the club’s own website after every game, so maybe he’s too “shy” or maybe he just doesn’t see communication, with those outside the playing staff, as an important part of his role.

I’ve interviewed and chatted to every City manager since Joe Mercer at one time or another, either as a journalist or fan or host of a radio programme or at some event I’ve been overseeing.

Just like everyone else I have my favourites and there have been those I’ve been less impressed with, and that view is based on a number of factors. The performances on the pitch are crucial of course, because I’ve been a City fan far longer than I’ve been a journalist, but there’s also something else, call it charisma, the x-factor an instinct based on body language and things I hear but never repeat, but all those things combined usually bring me to some sort of conclusion.

On the occasions when I’ve been at Pellegrini press conferences or been given the chance to interview him (always as part of a group, never individually) I’ve always sensed an impatient man, who has never really shown temper, passion, humour, or any of the other human traits that help you to judge a man. There’s the odd twinkle in the eye, and it seems that behind the scenes, the players have a lot of affection for him.

Maybe it doesn’t matter, maybe it shouldn’t matter, but I’ve found it hard, so far, to warm to him. The irony is that the man he succeeded, Roberto Mancini was a man I liked, even though it seems that behind the scenes, and with many of the senior players (allegedly) Mancini was not popular.

In terms of tactics and results, it’s been so mixed, once again it’s hard to judge. The wins against Newcastle, United, Norwich and CSKA were awesome, the defeats against Sunderland, Villa, Cardiff, Chelsea and at home to Bayern were all different – individual mistakes, refereeing decisions, injuries, team selection, bad luck and an assumption of victory, not backed up by attitude, have played their part. How much of that is down to the manager?

Does it matter that Pellegrini is not very animated on the touchline, that his visible mood never seems to change whether things are going well or the team is under performing?

Why have I offered more questions than answers in this piece about the manager? The reason is that I can’t make my mind up about Pellegrini, have you?

 

– Ian Cheeseman