Pellegrini warms up to task to keep hot seat for long term

City boss Manuel Pellegrini will hope that new signing Raheem Sterling can spur the club to win honours in the EPL and Champions League after drawing a blank last season.
City boss Manuel Pellegrini will hope that new signing Raheem Sterling can spur the club to win honours in the EPL and Champions League after drawing a blank last season.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

LONDON • Manuel Pellegrini may have been handed a new contract but, as Manchester City prepare to open their Premier League campaign at West Bromwich Albion tonight, the Chilean coach is under no illusions that he must win silverware to keep his job.

He followed the resounding success of his first year at City, in which he won the Premier League and League Cup, with a disappointing season that ended with the big-spending club finishing empty-handed in May.

Despite that failure, and mounting speculation that Bayern Munich boss Pep Guardiola was lined up to take over, City's Abu Dhabi-based owners awarded Pellegrini a one-year contract extension on Friday. It ties him and three of his staff to the club until 2017.

The 61-year-old is well aware that a repeat of last season's second-place finish in the Premier League and Champions League last-16 exit will not be acceptable.

"For me, a good season with a big team is that you must win a title," Pellegrini said.

"You cannot say it is a very good season if you win nothing. Also, it is very important in the way you win a title. Maybe you can win a title and if I am not happy in the way we play, then, for me, it is not a good season.

"In my career, when I don't get the results I want, I am the first to be self-critical."

That note of caution aside, the manager is clearly relishing the challenges ahead.

"One year ago, there were some important managers, like (Carlo) Ancelotti, at teams they've since left. As a professional, it's very difficult to talk about long term," Pellegrini said.

"But if you ask me, of course, I think I can continue working here for the long term."

His men visit West Brom without left-back Gael Clichy, who has an ankle injury, and former Aston Villa midfielder Fabian Delph. The latter is two weeks away from recovering from a hamstring tear suffered on his debut in pre-season.

Argentina forward Sergio Aguero, City's leading scorer last season, could be rested for the opening game while he works on his fitness following Copa America duty.

West Brom manager Tony Pulis is eager to further strengthen his side despite the arrival of winger Serge Gnabry on loan from Arsenal.

"I wouldn't say we're not good enough but we're not happy as a club with what we've got at the moment," he said.

"Every season you start, it's like opening your Christmas presents again and you just don't know what's coming.

"I want to do the best I can with the material I'm given.

"That's always been my philosophy - to squeeze everything I can about the team I have."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 10, 2015, with the headline 'Pellegrini warms up to task to keep hot seat for long term'. Print Edition | Subscribe