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If Manuel Pellegrini had taken an English side who had only made it into the Premier League in 1998 - then dropped down, before being promoted again - to the semi-finals of the Champions League, how would he be viewed?
If he then took that same side to a second placed finished in the Premier League, his CV would be looking good.
Then he gets the gig at Manchester United, but David Gill is selling players without his permission and using a paper to tar his name, all because he wasn’t appointed under his watch.
Despite this, Pellegrini leads United to 96 points, but misses out on the title to an brilliant [insert team here] side. Admittedly we know this United side possessed over £200 million worth of talent, but that’s not always the recipe for success is it?
Of course, Man Utd ‘flopped’ in the Champions League too, knocked out to a far from rubbish Lyon side after progressing from the groups. They were also knocked out of the cup to Burnley, but didn’t feature their strongest side, and we all know how cup exits can be diluted in England with the “reserve side” arguement. Even when it’s not actually a reserve side.
Dismissed from Old Trafford, he takes over at a club like, say QPR, and thanks to a bit of money thrown at it, takes them to the Champions League. But then, we all know how easy that is - just look at QPR.
Except when they get to the promised land, QPR’s owners decide they’re not interested and start flogging players. Despite this, Pellegrini takes them to the quartefinals of the European Cup and narrowly misses out courtesy of a last minute goal against Borussia Dortmund.
Despite a small squad, a handful of loanees and a European run, Pellegrini maintains QPR’s league form. They occupy the top four for most of the season and never drop out of the top six -it’s only when they exit Europe that they start feeling sorry for themselves and tiredness catches up with them.
But God forbid this could be a realistic story.
Thanks to Martin Samuel’s outstanding research we know it’s unlikely Pellegrini could ever do what Roberto Martinez’s has down with Wigan - winning the FA Cup but it looks like one relegation battle too many.
He couldn’t even emulate Alan Pardew at Newcastle, or Alan Curbishley at Charlton all those years ago.
Lighting up La Ciudad del Futbol in Las Rozas - a municipality near Madrid and the home of the RFEF - are two European Championships, one World Cup and countless trophies from under-age successes. Domestically there’s the small matter of Real Madrid and Barcelona too, the two teams who were pretty much solely responsible for FIFA’s team of the year and who’s regular meetings - known as El Clasico - regularly draw millions of viewers worldwide.
Changing of the guard?
Barcelona are still highly likely - bar a mahoosive collapse - set to win the La Liga title back from Real Madrid. However, Saturday’s win for Mourinho’s men over La Blaugrana was the second of the week, both significant in their simplicity. If the Portuguese coach’s job was to belittle the Barcelona regime which has thrilled Europe for so long, it would appear his work is done. Even if he is to leave in the summer.
Malaga and Atleti defences are the bosses.
Diego Simeone’s first game in charge of Atletico Madrid was a 0-0 draw with Malaga. This weekend they drew 0-0 with Malaga again, failing to completely capitalise on Barca’s defeat. It wasn’t completely unexpected though - Thibaut Courtois and Willy Caballero are the leading candidates for the Zamora trophy.
Thriller in San Sebastian.
Two of this season’s most exciting teams put on a cracking encounter at Real Sociedad’s Anoeta on Sunday night. Following two 0-0’s in the Sunday schedule, there was pressure on this fixture to produce. It did. Real Betis led 2-0, before trailing 3-2 only to clinch an equaliser through Colombian loanee Dorlan Pabo. Great entertainment.
Espanyol bore draw keeps home form going.
Valladolid came for a draw and got one, frustrating Javier Aguirre’s Espanyol as they held out for a 0-0 draw. The home side will be disappointed that their five match winning run came to an end at Cornella-El Prat, but can seek encouragement in the fact they are still unbeaten there since the Mexican took charge.
Massive Mallorca win.
Tomer Hemed’s 90+4 minute winner against Granada brought to life thoughts of the great escape for newly-appointed Gregorio Manzano’s Mallorca. Still plenty of work to do mind, but it will breathe some confidence into a squad who desperately needed some. The same can’t be said for Deportivo la Coruna who drew 0-0 at home with Rayo Vallecano. Draws are not the medicine needed for their survival though.
Jornada 24: Espanyol vs. Real Betis; Cornella-El Prat
To coin an old cliché, football is a very funny game.
Another illustration of this took place at Cornella-El Prat on Sunday night as an Espanyol team, inflated with the confidence that not so long ago resided in Real Betis, took on Los Verdiblancos from Seville.
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