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Manuel Pellegrini’s dignity shines through the Pep Guardiola excitement

Manuel Pellegrini made no fuss about his fate and is focused on guiding Manchester City to what could yet be a remarkable quadruple. Photograph: Matt Roberts/Getty ImagesManuel Pellegrini made no fuss about his fate and is focused on guiding Manchester City to what could yet be a remarkable quadruple. Photograph: Matt Roberts/Getty Images

How’s Jupp?” Pep Guardiola reportedly asked the first time it was announced he was taking a job from a sixty-something title-winning manager, Bayern Munich’s Jupp Heynckes, in 2013. Whether Manuel Pellegrini was afforded the same consideration remains unclear but there is no doubt the 62-year-old warrants it. “How’s Manuel?” will not have been answered with: “Smashing up his office and sticking pins in a figurine of you.”

The manner of the Manchester City manager’s exit, or at least confirmation of it, was in keeping with the “charming man” reputation the Chilean has established during his three seasons at the Etihad Stadium. Pellegrini had finished taking questions about Tuesday’s Premier League trip to Sunderland when, as though a mere footnote, he concluded his press conference with news that 30 June would be his last day after all. “They are not doing anything behind me,” said City’s manager of their deal with Guardiola. “I knew this one month ago.”

Then he was up and out of the door, pausing only to confirm the departure date en route. No bitterness, no recrimination, no emotion; just a dignified response from an experienced football man who accepts the business he is in. Pellegrini has been here before, losing his job at the Bernabéu in 2010 owing to the availability of José Mourinho and failure to overhaul Barcelona despite winning Real Madrid’s then-record points total of 96 in a La Liga season. Guardiola again. He had a 75% win ratio in his one season with Real. He will have won more games in his first 100 Premier League fixtures than any manager other than Mourinho, heading to the Stadium of Light with a record of 64 from 99. But self-promotion is not his thing.

Pellegrini knew of City’s deal with the two-times Champions League winner at the start of January but said nothing, preferring to focus on keeping the team in four competitions and only raising the subject to avoid further distraction. Having guided City to the Capital One Cup final, the fifth round of the FA Cup, the last 16 of the Champions League and second in the Premier League, three points behind leaders Leicester City, it goes without saying Pellegrini, as his employers’ statement said, “is entirely focused on achieving his targets for the season ahead and retains the respect and commitment of all involved with the leadership of the club”.

City will hope the Guardiola effect repeats itself before he sets foot in the door and, as with Heynckes, Pellegrini bows out with a title or three.

The impending arrival of one of the finest coaches in the game could concentrate the minds at the City as it did at Bayern but, according to Jürgen Klopp, there was far more to their treble-winning campaign of 2013 than Heynckes’s farewell.

Klopp, who suffered more than most from Bayern’s reaction as they beat his Borussia Dortmund team to both the Champions League and Bundesliga title, said: “Maybe [City’s announcement will focus players on silverware], but it is up to the team. Don’t forget, the 2013 treble-winning team of Bayern was unbelievably strong and they had all their players fit until the end. There were other factors too, like them losing a few titles in the years before. Jupp Heynckes and his team worked really good together but they didn’t work well together because he had said he was leaving at the end of the season.” – theguardian –

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