From winners of the 2013-14 Premier League campaign to a struggling aspirant for fourth place in the current season.
In fact, it was as recently as Christmas day that Manchester City were tied at the top with Chelsea. A premature exit from the UEFA Champions League once again after being humbled in their own backyard by Barcelona is also on their growing list of woes. For City owner, Sheikh Mansour, who expects fast results and nothing but the best, this is a disaster.
It’s a forgone conclusion that he’s on the lookout for someone to replace the Chilean this summer. With speculation surrounding City’s next managerial acquisition mounting, here’s a run-down of some of the managers that could replace Manuel Pellegrini at Manchester City next term:
The Spaniard will be the top contender to replace Pellegrini next season. His impeccable credentials at Barcelona and Bayern Munich make him the most sought after manager in the world, and his annual salary of €10.5 million is a testimony to his immense accomplishments and qualities.
His abilities as a master tactician and someone who lays emphasis on attractive play makes his case as the most in-demand manager even stronger. But having made a commitment to honour his contract at Bayern Munich, the chances of him actually taking over at the Etihad this summer are slim.
Although, City would no doubt pay top dollar for a manager of Pep’s calibre. Whether or not they can find somebody of his stature is a different matter altogether.
Atletico Madrid’s Argentine manager would be the second favourite to fill Pellegrini’s shoes. He transformed Los Rojiblancos from a virtual non-entity to a force to be reckoned with, not just in Spanish football but in the European circuit, too.
Apart from breaking the stranglehold of the big two, Real Madrid and Barcelona, in La Liga, by winning the title for the 2013-14 season, he added two more Spanish Cups and came within a whisker of winning last year’s UEFA Champions League. His success ratio still hovers around 65%, which is remarkable considering the amount of quality that the club lost last summer, with Diego Costa, Thibaut Courtois and Filipe Luis all joining Chelsea.
His out-of-the-box thinking and never-say-die attitude has helped him continue in the same vein this season despite such setbacks. But the Argentine seems to be enjoying his stay at Madrid, and having recently agreed a new 5-year deal with the club, it would take a lot to persuade Madrid to let him leave.
One person in whom City are undoubtedly interested is Borussia Dortmund manager Jurgen Klopp. He took the German side back to the summit of the Bundesliga in the last few years, as well as a Champions League final, and City are looking for a manager that can do just that.
The only thing going against him is that he has only managed within Germany throughout his career and coming to England would mean acclimatizing to an absolutely new style of league and game. His enormous experience in the Champions League would have stood City in good stead considering the club’s dismal track-record in their European outings.
With Klopp having stated that he will be leaving the Bundesliga club after seven years at the end of the season, rumours of him joining the Premier League now appear to be a serious possibility.
Rafael Benitez is another manager who looks good to replace the current Manchester City boss. The former Liverpool manager has an intimate knowledge of English football and has also worked in Spain and Italy, where he is currently in charge of Napoli.
The Naples club is on the comeback trail after a poor beginning this season, and now look well set to end up in the top four by May, while they are also being viewed as top favorites to lift the Europa League trophy after their quarter-final drubbing of Wolfsburg.
Benitez’s tactics have a lot to do with Napoli’s recent success. Considering his vast experience and power, it would not come as a surprise to most if he were to be roped in by the City owners.
Rumors are flowing thick and fast about former Arsenal star Patrick Vieira taking over the reins at the Etihad. He’s currently responsible for the development of City’s youth and has done a commendable job of taking them to the quarter-final stage of the UEFA Youth League for two successive seasons.
He is on the verge of completing his UEFA Pro License this summer and could consider himself a likely candidate to fill in his superior’s shoes. He also has the experience of spending time under Pep Guardiola as a part of Bayern’s backroom staff. Although, should Viera be given the chance, he is likely to be nothing more than a stop-gap while the club wait for somebody with more experience and a proven track-record at the very highest level to come along. Guardiola once again springs to mind.
Ancelotti could be another candidate, but his predicament is not very much unlike Pellegrini’s at the moment. The Italian’s plumetting fortunes at Real would definitely be viewed with caution by City’s top brass. The same goes for Brendan Rodgers, who seems to be running out of ideas at Liverpool, who find themselves at a distant 5th in the Premier League and out of contention for next year’s Champions League.
While there are a number of attractive options available to City, just how likely they are to take the job remains a mystery. But, it’s best to keep your fingers crossed, City fans. One never knows how minds with deep pockets work.