Manchester City hired Manuel Pellegrini to replace the fired Roberto Mancini as manager of the English Premier League soccer club, which failed to win a trophy last season.
The 59-year-old Pellegrini, who joins from Malaga, has coached teams in his native Chile, Argentina and Spain including Villarreal and Real Madrid. He signed a 3-year contract and will start June 24, City said today in a statement on its website.
“Everything is in place for Manchester City to continue to be successful and I am excited to be able to work with such a talented squad, the executive team and the board to deliver for fans who are renowned for their steadfast support,” Pellegrini said in the statement.
City fired Mancini on May 13, two days after the team’s upset loss to Wigan in the F.A. Cup final and exactly a year after the Italian guided the club to its first English league title in 44 years. Mancini spent 3 1/2 years in the job and also won the F.A. Cup in 2011.
Pellegrini becomes City’s third manager since Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan bought the team in 2008. City had been a perennial underachiever in English soccer, even dropping into the third tier in 1998, before Sheikh Mansour spent about $1 billion to lift the club from under the shadow of local rival Manchester United.
City finished as the runner-up to United in the Premier League last season, 11 points behind as the Red Devils won the English championship for a record-extending 20th time. City also came last in its European Champions League group.
The club said it fired Mancini after he failed to deliver any of its stated targets beyond Champions League qualification, and after it had identified the need “to develop a holistic approach to all aspects of football at the club.”
Mancini’s exit means both Manchester teams will have new coaches next season. United on May 9 appointed David Moyes as successor to 71-year-old Alex Ferguson, who retired after more than 26 years.
Pellegrini, a qualified civil engineer, spent his entire playing career with Santiago-based Universidad de Chile, making 451 appearances for the club and then becoming its coach.
He coached various teams in South America, including Ecuador’s LDU Quito and Argentina’s River Plate, before taking his first European job with Villarreal of Spain in 2004.
Pellegrini spent five seasons at Villarreal, where he twice guided the “yellow submarine” to top-three finishes in La Liga and twice reached the Champions League quarterfinals.
He joined Real Madrid in 2009, lasting only one season as the team finished behind champion Barcelona even after accumulating a then-club record 96 points. The runner-up finish came after Real spent a record $300 million on players including Cristiano Ronaldo and Kaka during the offseason.
Pellegrini took over at Malaga in November 2010 and guided the club to its first top-four finish in La Liga in his first full campaign in charge. The team reached last season’s Champions League quarterfinals on its tournament debut.
City ended a 35-year trophy drought by winning the F.A. Cup under Mancini in 2011 and securing its first English league championship since 1968 on the final day of the following campaign. It failed to win any silverware last season.
United clinched its 13th Premier League trophy with four matches to spare to end City’s title defense. Mancini’s squad didn’t win any of its six Champions League group games and its tally of three points was the lowest by an English team in the group stage of Europe’s elite club competition.
City lost the May 11 F.A. Cup final 1-0 at Wembley as Wigan, which was relegated from the Premier League alongside Reading and Queens Park Rangers the following week, became the lowest-ranked team to win the trophy since West Ham in 1980.
To contact the reporters on this story: --Chris Elser at the London Sports Desk at firstname.lastname@example.org; Dan Baynes in Sydney at email@example.com
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