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Quiet man leaves City shouting from the rooftops

11 May 2014 18:17

When Manuel Pellegrini reflects on a triumphant first season at Manchester City, he will be entitled to allow himself a wry smile.

Do not expect anything more, at least publicly. An end-of-season compilation of the most entertaining moments from Pellegrini press conferences would be particularly short. Impulsive displays of emotion are not his thing.

Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho will always be cunning and calculated not far below the charisma, while Brendan Rodgers was superbly emotive in ensuring the weight of history pushed Liverpool towards Premier League glory rather than hanging heavily on their shoulders.

Meanwhile, Pellegrini wore the occasionally weary look of a man who believed league titles were not won behind microphones. Now the quiet Chilean can enjoy a wonderful racket when City fans line the streets of Manchester on Monday to salute their heroes after being crowned champions on Sunday following a 2-0 win over West Ham.

Just do not hold your breath for a stirring speech

Aside from an astonishing run of form for November through to the end of January, when City's irresistible attacking talents laid waste to all before them, it did not always look like ending in this way.

A Yaya Toure-inspired comeback secured a 3-1 win over Sunderland in March's League Cup final but, by the time Pellegrini hoisted the season's first piece of silverware, City’s swashbuckling mid-season form had subsided. A month either side of the Wembley triumph came damaging defeats to Chelsea and Liverpool.

Mourinho's tactical masterclass halted City's mid-season revelry, while an attacking outlook bordering on naivety prompted an unwelcome return of defensive howlers in a 3-2 Anfield defeat.

Both losses painted pictures of opponents being lifted by inspired managers, with Pellegrini a passenger at their mercy. When the biggest games come around next season, his credentials will be carefully examined once more.

But Pellegrini's approach is not that of the modern super-coach - he famously dismissed formations as "telephone numbers". He is a calming influence with a history of encouraging players to play with freedom and reach their potential. It is about them, not him

With the exception of an ill-judged and regrettable verbal attack on referee Jonas Eriksson following February's UEFA Champions League defeat to Barcelona, Pellegrini conducted himself with the utmost dignity. He provided the much-needed counterpoint to Roberto Mancini's successful but tumultuous reign.

"He's made it a happy place," Spain playmaker David Silva told reporters this week when reflecting on a superb individual season. "He's brought a joy and happiness."

It is testament to Pellegrini's coaching methods that Edin Dzeko, Samir Nasri and Aleksandar Kolarov - players many of the Etihad Stadium faithful would have been happy to see follow Mancini through the exit door last May - enjoyed unquestionably their finest campaigns in sky blue.

Similarly, Joe Hart and Martin Demichelis recovered from error-strewn periods to be rock-solid presences as City held their nerve during the run-in.

Leading performers also scaled new heights. Toure blasted through the 20-goal barrier and became a free-kick specialist, while Sergio Aguero made light of persistent injury struggles to net 17 times in 20 league starts.

Maximising the fine resources already available will be essential next term as UEFA's Financial Fair Play penalties reportedly loom ahead - another fraught situation Pellegrini seems ideally suited to tackle.

City supporters unfurled a banner paying tribute to the 60-year-old before the season's penultimate home match against Aston Villa, bearing the words "This Charming Man" after Manchester band The Smiths song. Once you're aligned with the city's proud musical heritage, you've truly arrived in Manchester.

Pellegrini is never likely to match the group's outspoken singer Morrissey when it comes to acidic quotes, but it is just as well. Without their manager's quiet charm, Manchester City would not be basking in the glow of their most successful season ever.

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Premier League table

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