Polls and player ratings are usually contentious and prove the old adage about opinions being like a part of our anatomy – everybody has one! But recently Claret and Hugh had a poll on how fans had received Manuel Pellegrini’s first season at the club.
I was surprised that those saying he had met their expectations only just won the day over the less than impressed. I have no wish to fall out with any who have been disappointed but a nine per cent gap between those who were happy and the rest seems too narrow.
There have been follow up comments on the forum about him not being what he is cracked up to be, that he needs to shape up and in one or two odd cases even sacked. Of course, people can only answer a single poll question but after our regular flirtations with relegation, to take us to safety with a couple of months left of the season seems a pretty notable achievement.
And he has done it without two summer signings who were key to his plans: Jack Wilshere and Andriy Yarmolenko. This has seen him regularly using around eight or nine of a squad that suffered so badly last term – Zaba, Ogbonna, Cresswell, Masuaku, Noble, Rice, Chicharito, Antonio, Arnautovic and Masuaku.
He had also been thinking of a team that would perform around Manu Lanzini before losing him for eight months. It’s also been done with a certain Robert Snodgrass playing all season after being thrown into outer darkness at Aston Villa!
There have again been more than enough injuries, particularly poor decisions from officials over the last couple of months, and the awful Arnautovic saga. Despite all of that, few would disagree there has been a much better brand of football being played.
At our best we have been outstanding at times and it’s easy to see how we will be progressing over the next couple of years if he and Mario Husillos find the right players.
He has said himself that it’s impossible for clubs of our size to splash on the very best and that it’s up to the Director of Football to get to grips with unearthing decent talent at a sensible price.
That’s realistic and I’m sure he was aware of all the circumstances financially – short and long term – when he took over. Given his first season achievement, I really do expect him to find the players he needs – and us to kick on.