Manuel Pellegrini was effortlessly polite, courteous to a fault with a warm smile and had a relaxed almost casual manner. Some Blues thought this portrayed him as lacking steel and being dispassionate but he did follow Roberto Mancini as our manager and in some way he was the antithesis to Mancini in that Roberto wore his heart on his sleeve.
For Pellers it was going to be a difficult start. The majority of the fans didn’t want him, and the dressing room was falling apart with rumours of acrimony aplenty. His first season started shakily as players struggled to come to terms with his style of play. Mancini’s was rigid whereas Pellers was free, flowing and about movement.
The football we were playing though was superb, a pleasure to watch as the team eventually clicked into gear and brought into Pellers’ vision of how the game should be played. The Daily Telegraph described our football as ‘death by geometry’ such were our angles of attack and intricate passing. That first season to me was about the majesty of Yaya Toure. Pellers had the foresight to release him from being an holding midfield player after signing Fernandinho and Yaya was pushed further forward.
He was simply astonishing that season, his rampaging runs got him 20 goals and at times he was untouchable. Considering he played centre half for Barca against United in a Champions League final, this new version of Yaya that Pellers unleashed was simply one of the best players on the planet once he was given the freedom to display his awesome array of talents.
In Pellers’ second season our form dipped, and the signings were poor. Sagna on a free looked decent, but it quickly became obvious his best days were behind him. Fernando made no impact at all, possibly due to the fact Fernandinho was simply on a different planet to him, and Bony and Mangala were disasters.
We did get Frank Lampard on a free who it has to be said was a pleasure to watch in Sky Blue and his goal against Chelsea will live long in the memory. The season started like the previous one with a stutter, we lost at home to Stoke and teams started to defend deep against us denying us space to weave our patterns. We had been worked out, Stoke’s template was improved and teams denied us space out wide, blocked Silva’s path and generally frustrated us, waiting for the chance to counter as our defence was still seen as frail, mainly in my opinion because Pellers was urging us forward at every opportunity and we left gaps that could be exploited.
My feeling was Pellers was struggling to find an answer. We still finished runners up that season but were trophyless. The Charming Man however had some credit in the bank, but the shadow of Guardiola loomed large over him. His third season started well. We won our first five games and then guess who pops up at the Etihad to ruin our start? Yep. Its West Ham.
And from there we lost our way, Pellers didn’t handle Sterling and De Bruyne well and the feeling was they were forced upon him by the impending arrival of Guardiola. We looked scared to have a go and the vibrancy of his first season had gone. It was a sad end. He did, however, win us three trophies in his time with us and I will be forever thankful to him for that and especially for that season where he unleashed the magnificence of Yaya Toure onto the Premier League.
I think you are getting a manager. He is humble, graceful and well-mannered. A very decent human being whose style of football is a joy to watch and who should fit your club’s traditions of playing football the proper way. His teams can be brittle, but trust in him and enjoy the ride. Accept there will be times he gets it horribly wrong and hope his eye for a player is still as exceptional as it was.
He almost secured Isco for City but we were gazumped by Real at the last minute. He delivered us Fernandinho – the finest holding midfielder of the last few years – and I do hope your board back him properly so he can deliver what you deserve. The Premier League is always a stronger league with West Ham in it and doing well and you are a club that myself and many Blues hold in great affection as you are a proper football club with proper fans.