Chelsea managerial target Manuel Pellegrini may be unfamiliar to many fans in England as he has only ever managed in Spanish speaking countries and although he’s done good work with Malaga, nobody forgets his unhappy year at Real Madrid.
In truth the Chilean received a much harder time as the manager at the Santiago Bernabeu than he ought to have done. During his year there he guided Los Blancos to a club record 96 league points and still managed to finish three points behind Barcelona which is certainly no disgrace, right?
The Spanish press didn’t think he was good enough and made their feelings perfectly and Pellegrini was subject to a fair amount of abuse and criticism for his management of Real Madrid. Even the club’s hierarchy expressed disappointment as Florentino Perez claimed that the team’s style of play was too physically demanding for the players.
Pellegrini later revealed that there were far too many problems at Real Madrid for him to give a real account of himself as he simply didn’t have a voice and was angered when the likes of Wesley Sneijder and Arjen Robben were sold against his wishes, and had simply inherited Karim Benzema, Cristiano Ronaldo and busted flush Kaka.
The Chilean argued that his squad was unbalanced (sounds familiar) and stressed the importance of having a mixture of qualities within the team.
“They sign the best players, but not the best players needed in a certain position.
“It’s no good having an orchestra with the 10 best guitarists if I don’t have a pianist. Real Madrid have the best guitarists, but if I ask them to play the piano they won’t be able to do it so well. He [Perez] sold players that I considered important. We didn’t win the Champions League because we didn’t have a squad properly structured to be able to win it.”
Pellegrini is an intelligent man who speaks fluent English, has a degree in civil engineering and likes his sides to play attacking football, which would certainly appeal to Roman Abramovich, but as he likes his sides structured he may worry that he could suffer a similar experience at Stamford Bridge as he did at Real Madrid. The Blues possess a lot of quality in their ranks but are lacking strength in depth in certain areas, will he be allowed enough say to rectify this as he sees fit?
I’m sure he would make his feelings known should he get to the interview stage and the likes of Michael Emenalo must recognise the squad’s shortcomings by now and Roman Abramovich may opt for a manager that he believes can develop young players as well as highlighting areas that need work, but I expect the scouting network will still make the bulk of recommendations when it comes to signings.
On his footballing philosophy, Pellegrini says he likes to blend qualities from South American and European football:
“My teams always treat the ball as the priority, with plenty of mobility, blending South American football with European. My philosophy is based on having players with a good technical ability. Efficient and creative. My teams think more about building than destroying, and I don’t like those who prioritise destruction through constant man-marking and fouling. It bores me, I’d never go to see that kind of football.”
He certainly has got the best out of players like Isco during a troubled time at Malaga, who are facing a UEFA ban, but he was also the last man to split Barcelona and Real Madrid in the table when his Villarreal side finished in second place in La Liga ahead of Frank Rijkaard’s Barca, which was an incredible feat for a relatively small club from a town that has just over 50,000 people, fewer than the population of place like Aylesbury.
It seems certain that the Chilean is on Chelsea’s radar as the West London club are impressed with his methods, but how does he feel about managing the Blues?