Is Pellegrini a good fit for Chelsea?
Published: 29.04.13 / Written by: David Gold
Manuel Pellegrini is to become the next Chelsea manager if current reports are to be believed.
The club have apparently made him their prime target to replace ‘The Interim One’, Rafa Benitez, rather than bringing back the self styled ‘Special One’.
The Malaga coach is not short of admirers, with Manchester City also apparently sniffing around and registering their interest. And it is no surprise that this wily Chilean is being courted so much. He has already had a stint at Real Madrid let’s not forget, earning the club a then record points tally of 96 before being fired. That of course was not good enough, because Barcelona were even better, racking up 99 points.
Poor Pellegrini. There is something unlucky about him from his career in Europe so far. He took unfashionable Villarreal from nowhere to the Spanish top flight and then into the Champions League, establishing them as regulars on the continent’s biggest stage. A remarkable achievement, his side were cruelly denied by the gloves of Jens Lehmann in the 2006 semi final against Arsenal of a place in the final that year.
At Madrid, it defied belief that his efforts did not yield the La Liga trophy, so brilliant were Barcelona, but that was what happened. And Pellegrini is now at Malaga, a club he has done so well to guide into the Champions League. But the club’s financial problems mean they have been banned from European competition by UEFA next season, which only makes the Chilean more likely to leave.
And so it is that he will now be plotting where to go next. It is unlikely that he will take over at Real Madrid given his history there, and so England looks the likely possibility, although Inter Milan may well have a vacancy this summer, as could their city rivals AC. But Chelsea and Manchester City are doing the front running for now.
Pellegrini has an attractive if cautious way of playing football. His sides are based on mastering the ball and possession. His teams will monopolise the ball with a Barcelona like obsession, but they are not as fast or dynamic. They will play slower, keeping things tighter at the back, and their ball possession is more of a defensive measure than it is at a team like Barcelona. Nonetheless his teams are very attacking, and they look to do so with some considered style. His Villarreal side were wonderful to watch and his current Malaga side pretty good too.
The Chilean is also very classy, conducting himself superbly on and off the pitch, something Chelsea may be tempted by given the public relations problems they have had in recent times. And it would make a refreshing contrast from the controversy filled style of Jose Mourinho. He is also not afraid to take on a big name, as he did at Villarreal when benching the classy Juan Roman Riquelme for wanting to control the game himself too much. The Pellegrini system would probably utilise wingers far more than Chelsea have for some time. There would be two more functional but technical central midfielders with two skilful wide players who can cut inside supporting a traditional front two. The 4-2-2-2 is the Chilean’s typical system.
You wonder how much patience Roman Abramovich would have though. Pellegrini has made a habit of unfortunate Champions League exits over the years, whether by an odd penalty against Arsenal or the last minute collapse against Borussia Dortmund this year with Malaga. And he could not steer Real Madrid past the last 16 of the competition.
So Pellegrini would be an interesting choice at Chelsea. He may well have some success and could bring two things the club has lacked so much of recently – style and class. But you wonder whether Abramovich would give him the time and backing to be a real success at the club.