Manchester City look likely to end the season without a trophy to show for their efforts, but Manuel Pellegrini insists he doesn’t fear for his job.
Since being taken over by the Abu Dhabi United Group (ADUG) in the summer of 2008, the Blues have been hell-bent on establishing themselves as a true force in the game at home and abroad. And there is little doubt they have done just that, at least in England, where they have won the Premier League title twice, an FA Cup and a League Cup since ending a 35-year trophy-drought in 2011.
Pellegrini is responsible for two of these honours, having led City to a league title and the League Cup in his debut campaign last term. However, this has been a disappointing season for the Etihad Stadium club, who were again eliminated from the UEFA Champions League in the Round of 16, whilst Newcastle United ended their defence of the trophy they won last year and Middlesbrough, of the Championship, cut short their bid for the FA Cup when they knocked them out in the fourth round.
As for their quest to be crowned champions of England in successive seasons for the first time in their history, this looked to be on track when they drew level with Chelsea on New Year’s Day. Since then, though, they have won just four of their 11 fixtures in the Premier League, drawing three times and losing to Arsenal, Liverpool, Burnley and, most recently, Crystal Palace.
This last defeat, 2-1 at Selhurst Park on Monday evening, leaves the champions nine points adrift of Chelsea, who have a game in hand. It also leaves them in fourth position in the table, raising doubts over a Champions League qualification which looked certain not so long ago. Naturally this has led to speculation over Pellegrini’s future, but the Chilean coach insists he is not worried.
“I’m not concerned about my job,” he said on Sky Sports. “That is one thing I am never concerned with. I never have fear about it, I do my work, I’m very happy. The team maybe have a difficult season but never worry about me. We are not thinking about Chelsea, or about the title. We are just trying to win our games, so we must continue to win as many points as we can.”
Next up for City is a trip across town to face neighbours United, who appear to be finding form at long last and now lead the Blues in the table by a point. Pellegrini must know that another defeat here could prove costly, particularly as the two sides below them, Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur, are just seven points adrift and respectively face Newcastle and Aston Villa at home this weekend.
If Pellegrini is shown the door, City are likely to be interested in discovering what the future holds for Carlo Ancelotti. The former Chelsea coach could be fired if Real Madrid fail to defend the Champions League and are pipped to the league title by Barcelona, and he is said to be open to a potential return to England. A more likely option would be Rafael Benitez, another former Stamford Bridge coach who is best remembered for his time at Liverpool, with the Spaniard set to leave Napoli in the summer.