Pellegrini: “Man City will win Champions League” Coral assess how and when
Bold statements are commonplace in football these days. However, when they’re issued from a source characterised by caution, people sit up and take notice.
Manuel Pellegrini is an educated man. Known as ‘The Engineer’ for his degree in that subject and building pragmatic football teams, there is credible cause to take him seriously.
So, as hard as it is to believe, Pellegrini’s recent argument could well have basis to it. “I am sure that Manchester City will win the Champions League in the future because the whole club works well,” he said.
“But being champions of Europe must not be an obsession here. Manchester United, in the whole period of Sir Alex Ferguson, when he was the best manager in the club’s history, only won the Champions League twice in 27 years.
“Even Barcelona had to wait 30 years. Real Madrid won many European titles in the beginning and then had to wait 28 or 29 years,” he continued. Being a strong team is Europe must be our target, but not at the expense of the Premier League.”
Barcelona have halted the club’s progress in recent seasons, beating them in the last 16 in consecutive seasons, though Pellegrini is determined not to let this become the satus quo.
“This is a very young team compared with Barcelona, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich or Juventus,” he continued. “We are younger than the teams who normally win the Champions League over the last 10 years. Our team has only arrived in the last few years and we are improving every season.
“That will continue and I am absolutely sure that we will arrive to be an important team that wins the Champions League. I hope that this year we will be luckier with the draw. One day we are going to be a strong team, like Barcelona are today.”
There is no doubting the quality of Man City’s squad, though to compare it to recent Barcelona winning sides, both in terms of personnel and style, would be naive.
Under Luis Enrique last season, Barca didn’t exactly win with the same style as previous seasons, when they re-propagated the ‘tiki taka’ and were so successful. Subtle changes from Enrique made them slightly more dynamic last term, with an emphasis in varying the speed of their play, often dictated by all-star front three Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez, arguably the best forward force in football.
City are some way off. Currently, only Sergio Aguero can be considered to be anywhere near that bracket, so he needs players of a similar calibre and goalscoring talent playing alongside him if the club are going to conquer Europe.
They also need a deep-lying playmaker just like Barca had Xavi Hernandez. While Yaya Toure and Fernandinho are very good, the pair are more robust and direct. Someone in the same vein as Real Madrid’s former Spurs star Luka Modric would be ideal, though whether there is anyone who is at that standard and can occupy that role remains to be seen.
The supply of these kind of players seem to have declined in recent years, with attacking versions more and more widespread. City have a number of this new breed already at their disposal, with summer signing Kevin De Bruyne, David Silva and Samir Nasri.
Whether Raheem Sterling can make the jump to the highest level in the coming years is a question not even Pellegrini could probably answer. Any future world-class players may have to be bought and developed, instead of acquired tailor-made, like, arguably Aguero was.
Another ingredient that made Barca so successful, was the tenacious Carles Puyol, who was also one of the most positionally aware centre backs of his generation, while his ability to cover ground in short bursts when needed also suited the Catalans’ style of play.
Whether the club do win the Champions League in the coming years (14/1 this term with Coral) is one for debate, though to do it in the same fashion of Barca means they have work to do.