This Charming Man: What Manuel Pellegrini has given Manchester City
Phil Noble / Reuters

One of the worst-kept secrets in football has laid itself bare, with Manchester City revealing that Manuel Pellegrini is out at the end of the season and current Bayern Munich boss Pep Guardiola will be handed the reins.

Some may dub the close of Pellegrini's tenure "the end of an era" (a term used in the modern game to describe anything from a relegation to the departure of highly regarded player). But for the lofty ambitions in Eastlands, it can simply be referred to as a "cycle," and a three-year spell that developed the club into one suitable for a manager of Guardiola's stature.

When Pellegrini was appointed in 2013, Guardiola was already a focal point. City's chief executive Ferran Soriano conceded that director of football Txiki Begiristain and the Spanish gaffer "speak regularly, maybe weekly."

The Pep talk is over. City finally has its man.

Related: Guardiola appointment the final piece in Manchester City's puzzle

But whether it's a cycle or an era or something else entirely, Pellegrini has left his mark on Manchester City and its fans. Most importantly, he made an indelible impression on the club's future, which was seemingly always meant for Guardiola.

The football

Roberto Mancini's achievements placed him firmly in the hearts of the club's supporters, but there was never a set identity to the his teams' style of play. In Mancini's last season at the helm of City, the defensive responsibilities of the team were shrouded in doubt, as he sometimes opted for a back three and awkwardly moved around the formation via barked instructions from the touchline.

In appointing Pellegrini, City not only installed a manager with a more gentlemanly demeanor than Mancini, it was also able to adopt its own system. It is a possession-based approach, one designed to constantly try picking the lock of the opposing defence rather than to absorb pressure and counterattack.

Some of the football produced by Pellegrini's ranks during his title-winning debut campaign in 2013-14 is among the best ever witnessed at City. Unlike the Carlos Tevez and Sergio Aguero show at the end of Mancini's victorious 2011-12 season, the Chilean's trumping of Liverpool to reach the Premier League summit was a true team charge, with a stubbornness in its playing philosophy. Personnel tweaks were made, but the formation was rarely shifted around.

After three years under Pellegrini, Manchester City has a distinct playing identity that is implemented at all levels of the club.

The facilities and business

Pellegrini acted as a safe pair of hands; someone to front the club's "holistic approach" on the first-team level, while behind the scenes City was being turned into a formidable force.

Around the time of his appointment, sister club New York City FC was announced as the 20th Major League Soccer franchise. It was the beginning of the City Football Group, which has since purchased Melbourne Heart and turned it into Melbourne City FC, and bought a significant stake in Yokohama F. Marinos. In the space of two years, parent club Manchester City had spread its influence into three continents.

Pellegrini was also at the helm for the 2014 move to the Etihad Campus, which has these words spoken by owner Sheikh Mansour six years earlier emblazoned on the academy entrance: "We are building a structure for the future, not just a team of All-Stars."


City officials made numerous trips to Barcelona over the years to learn how to build a world-class outfit, with Begiristain and Soriano brought in to oversee City's transition after their spells at Camp Nou as director and general manager, respectively. An attacking ethos based around quick passing was instilled at the club and is now taught at the £200-million complex - a modern version of Barcelona's legendary La Masia facilities.

Despite the Etihad Campus being set in the relatively unfamiliar and formerly industrial setting of east Manchester, Guardiola will find plenty there to remind him of his old Catalonian place of work.

Pellegrini's diligence and experience ensured this busy three years beyond the senior squad ran smoothly.

The early fruition of La Masia structure

Coupled with the scouting networks that have grown considerably through the sister clubs in North America, Australia, and Japan, City's vast wealth has led it to dominate the local market, too.

The choices of former Manchester United favourites Robin van Persie, Phil Neville, and Darren Fletcher to have their sons at City was alarming for fans of the Red Devils, and recent results at youth level show that the team formerly dubbed the noisy neighbours has overtaken its great rival, from the under-8s to the senior level.

The work at youth level is already coming into fruition at the top. Kelechi Iheanacho bagged a hat trick against Aston Villa last Saturday, and was joined on the pitch by fellow graduates Angelino, Bersant Celina, and Cameron Humphreys. A Nigerian, a Spaniard, a Norwegian, and a Manchester lad, all in their teens and early products of the Etihad Campus.

With the style of play, seamless transition into the plush new facilities, and gradual use of younger talent, Pellegrini has overseen an incredible transformation that paved the way to the inevitable hiring of Guardiola.

This Charming Man: What Manuel Pellegrini has given Manchester City
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