Manchester City’s Manuel Pellegrini admits he was a “mad dog” as a player
Calm style was only adopted when he took up management
Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini says he was a “mad dog” during his playing career.
City host West Ham United tomorrow knowing that a point guarantees a second Premier League crown in three years in Pellegrini’s first season in charge. While his predecessor, Roberto Mancini, was volatile the Chilean has been a serene influence in a topsy-turvy race.
Yet the 60-year-old said that much had changed from his time as a defender at Universidad de Chile. “As a player, I had a different character than I have today. To prepare to be a manager you must change a lot of things and one of those things I was sure I had to change was my character.”
Pellegrini was asked if he might have been a mad dog on the pitch. “Absolutely yes. I decided [to change]. There is another way of managing than as a player. You have to decide you are no longer a player and have a different [approach].”
Pellegrini shrugged off any notion of being nervous tomorrow. “It is very important for the manager to be calm, to try to repeat what we did the whole year. Preparing the game here is one game more. We must prepare the same way.”
At differing times Vincent Kompany, Sergio Aguero, David Silva and Yaya Toure have all been missing, with the quartet playing together for 216 minutes. Pellegrini said rival clubs could not have coped as well as City had they missed equivalent players.
“I don’t want to compare other teams but I think maybe this team was without Aguero, he missed 14-15 games in the Premier League. Maybe some other teams – you take Suarez out of 15 games for Liverpool or Hazard from Chelsea or Cazorla from Arsenal [how would they cope?].”
In Wednesday evening’s 4-0 rout of Aston Villa, the crowd became restless until City scored. Asked whether that could be a concern tomorrow if the match is goalless for a long period, Pellegrini said: “It’s impossible for me to know what will happen in the future. One of the most important things we did against Aston Villa was not worry about not scoring. We were playing well, we were a balanced team, we didn’t have any problem, [or] let Aston Villa have a chance to score.
“They knew we were going to win and continued in the same way until the end.”
Glimmer of hope
The Liverpool manager, Brendan Rodgers, believes his side still retain a glimmer of hope as they seek a first title since 1990, despite appearing to blow their chances in the final straight.
However, with their former striker Andy Carroll – deemed surplus to requirements at Anfield by Rodgers – leading the attack for Sam Allardyce’s side, the Northern Irishman has clearly not given up.
“It’s certainly not over. We know it is a tough game for us. For City, West Ham have some talented players and, if they can go to Tottenham and win 3-0, then they can certainly go to City and win,” Rodgers said.
“We will fight to the very end. If we win the game and don’t win the title, then to finish second to the richest team in sport is a huge compliment to what we are doing.
“They’ve got Big Andy up front and they can cause real problems. The expectancy is City will win but it won’t be easy for them. West Ham know they have the players who can cause problems.”
Having won a club record 11 games in succession, Liverpool led the table by five points going into the showdown with Chelsea at Anfield on 27 April but Steven Gerrard’s uncharacteristic mistake allowed José Mourinho’s side to win 2-0 and hand the initiative back to City. Crystal Palace’s late comeback from 3-0 down at Selhurst Park on Monday further diminished their chances of securing a first Premier League title but Rodgers expects his players to learn from that disappointment.
“I’ve watched the Palace match three times and I’m still in shock,” he said. “But I’d like to congratulate my players. We have had a remarkable season and put Liverpool on the world map again.
“This is only the beginning. I think we will improve dramatically again next season – the young players will be better for what they have experienced.”
Rodgers also confirmed he has an agreement in principle over a new contract, which he hopes will be signed when the season concludes.