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Manchester City vs. Liverpool

50-50 Challenge 3 days ago
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Manuel Pellegrini

Latest Club: Manchester City

2014/2015 Barclays Premier League

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Profile

Previous Clubs: Universidad de Chile, Palestino, O'Higgins, Universidad Católica, LDU Quito, San Lorenzo, River Plate, Villarreal, Real Madrid, Malaga

Honours: Copa Interamericana: 1994; Copa Chile: 1995; Campeonato Ecuatoriano de Fútbol: 1999; Argentina Clausura 2001, 2003; Copa Mercosur: 2001; UEFA Intertoto Cup: 2004

With a reputation as one of football's most formidable coaches, earned through successful spells in Spain, Argentina, and his native Chile, Manuel Pellegrini took a step out of his comfort zone and away from the Spanish-speaking world to take the reins at Manchester City in June, 2013.

A largely unknown coach before his arrival in Spain, the man labelled El Ingeniero (The Engineer) has said he doesn't believe in ''projects of more than three years", which is a statement he kept true to as he left Malaga after three seasons at the helm.

As a player, Pellegrini did not possess much of a CV. A strong centre-back for Universidad de Chile, he spent 13 years at the club, with a lone Copa Chile victory his only reward. As a coach, he was unable to bring trophies to the club either and stayed for only half a season before moving to various smaller outfits --eventually taking charge of Universidad Catolica in 1994.

Winning a Copa Chile and a Copa Interamericana with the club, he chose to continue his career abroad and signed for Liga de Quito, where he won the league title and reached the quarter-finals of the Copa Libertadores. A move to Argentina saw more success with San Lorenzo and River Plate, as he claimed Clausura titles, and attracted the attention of various European outfits -- Villarreal being one.

The Spanish side took a gamble in appointing a virtual unknown outside of South America, but it paid off as he led them to third place in the league and the quarter-finals of the UEFA Cup in his first season. While league form dipped the following season, he led them to a semi-final spot in the Champions League, where they were knocked out by Arsenal. The next year, Villarreal finished second in La Liga behind eventual champions Real Madrid.

For a club who had only been in the top division four seasons when he took over, this was a hugely impressive achievement and Pellegrini rightly received plaudits for his successes in leading the side so well on a shoestring budget. The Chilean's clashes with Juan Roman Riquelme, prior to his Villarreal exit, showed that the 59-year-old has a strong character and leadership skills.

Despite his success, Pellegrini was yet to land a European trophy to add to his CV, though he was expected to break that duck when Real Madrid hired him in 2009. Days after being appointed, Pellegrini was gifted with the record signings of Kaka and Cristiano Ronaldo. Soon after, Karim Benzema and Xabi Alonso joined his project which started the Galacticos Mark II era. Pellegrini valiantly battled to bring those big personalities together but saw his team knocked out of the Copa Del Rey and UEFA Champions League at early stages, and with that he knew his time was up if he could not secure the La Liga title.

Despite a then-record points total of 96, Madrid finished runners-up to Barcelona - who managed 99 - and Pellegrini was cast aside, with Jose Mourinho his replacement. He said at the time: "I didn't have a voice or a vote at Madrid. They signed the best players, but not the best players needed in a certain position. It's no good having an orchestra with the 10 best guitarists if I don't have a pianist. We didn't win the Champions League because we didn't have a squad properly structured to be able to win it."

On November 5, 2010, Malaga unveiled Pellegrini as their new manager on a three-year-deal. He led Malaga to 5th place in La Liga in his first full season, with a club-record points tally of 58 and then the following season secured Champions League qualification for the club for the first time. Their first season in the continental competition was a success as, despite the financial difficulties, Pellegrini took them to the quarter-finals, where they were controversially, and dramatically, beaten by eventual finalists Borussia Dortmund.

Pellegrini had given Malaga some of the best years of their history, and would likely have improved them further if they hadn't fallen into financial disarray. But in May 2013 he announced he was leaving the club and on June 14 he was appointed as boss of Manchester City.

After an uncertain start to life in the Premier League, which saw Manchester City lose four matches before the end of November, Pellegrini's quality began to show as his team's intricate, attacking style of football wowed crowds at the Etihad and saw a rampant City side hit the 100-goal mark in all competitions by mid-January.

The Chilean's first major trophy in European football soon followed as Manchester City lifted the Capital One Cup, coming from behind to beat Sunderland 3-1 in an entertaining final.

More silverware soon followed as Pellegrini's City sealed the Premier League title on the final day of the 2013-14 season with a total of 86 points and an outstanding 102 league goals -- only one shy of the Premier League record.

Strengths: Organisation. His nickname is "The Engineer" due to how he carefully puts pieces together to construct "machine-like" teams which attack and defend as a unit. And also as he actually has a degree in engineering from Santiago's Catholic University, which he studied for during his playing career. He was awarded the University's engineering department's "distinguished alumni" award in 2009 when coaching Real Madrid.

Weaknesses: Sometimes a little too quick to rush players back from injury, as demonstrated with David Silva, Sergio Aguero and Vincent Kompany in his debut season with City. Had previously been criticised for an overly-cautious approach but he threw the shackles off as City won the title. 

Career high: Becoming the first manager from outside of Europe to win the Premier League; and doing so in his first season in England.

Career low: Real Madrid's 4-0 Copa del Rey defeat to third-tier suburban Madrid team Alcorcon in 2009. Real's team -- worth 250 million euros -- was humiliated by the part-timers, with a word for it added to the Spanish language for complete meltdown/total failure -- Alcorconazo.

Quotes: "He does not believe in perfect systems. He does not make the style of his teams dependent on tactical systems, but he understands tactics as intelligence applied in the service of the game, and considers the best system to be that in which the coach gets the players to fully commit to." Ex-Real Madrid and Argentina midfielder, and ESPN pundit, Santi Solari.

Trivia: Pellegrini is believed to have decided to retire when a young centre-forward outjumped him for a ball during a game, ending his 13-year spell with Universidad de Chile, his only ever club, soon after.The young kid in question was future Chile legend Ivan Zamorano.

Words: Simon Baystead and Dermot Corrigan