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Manuel Pellegrini safe for now despite Manchester City’s slump


Manuel Pellegrini’s position as the Manchester City manager is safe and there will be no knee-jerk reaction despite Monday night’s defeat at Crystal Palace, though this may change depending on results in the remaining seven games.
Pellegrini is facing a job appraisal at the end of the season, as does Ferran Soriano, the chief executive, and the sporting director, Txiki Begiristain. There is a sense Pellegrini could still be in the job when next season starts, as one issue facing the Abu Dhabi hierarchy would be who could replace him. City’s No1 candidate is Pep Guardiola but the Bayern Munich coach has said he will serve out a contract that expires in the summer of 2016.
Of the other possible contenders, Real Madrid’s Carlo Ancelotti was passed over in favour of Pellegrini following Roberto Mancini’s sacking two years ago, and the style of football played by Diego Simeone’s Atlético Madrid is not considered cultured enough to match City’s aspirations.
Patrick Vieira, the elite development squad coach, is admired by the club and thought of as a potential future manager. Yet the view is that the Frenchman may not quite be ready. However if Pellegrini were to be removed before the end of the campaign, Vieira may act as a stop-gap, as Ryan Giggs did when becoming Manchester United interim manager after the sacking of David Moyes with four matches left of last term.
While Pellegrini’s appraisal is due in the close season, Mancini’s was brought forward after the FA Cup final defeat to Wigan Athletic in May 2013 and he was subsequently sacked. This act from an executive led by Khaldoon al-Mubarak, the chairman, may offer a precedent, though a sacking would occur only if City’s slump continues.
As City prepare to face Manchester United at Old Trafford on Sunday there is no mood to consider Pellegrini’s future now. The hierarchy are conscious that victory would leapfrog City over their crosstown rivals and maintain the gap to Liverpool to seven points at least, with only six matches remaining.
Yet there is concern after only two wins in the last six league matches, a sequence that has all but mathematically ended hopes of retaining the Premier League title.
Soriano and Begiristain are thought to be more secure in their positions, with each recognising the urgent need to refresh the squad with younger elite players. Yet at Soriano’s appraisal he may have to address how Uefa’s financial fair play sanctions have affected the campaign. Begiristain is responsible for a failed transfer strategy that has seen £119.9m spent on 11 players of whom only Martín Demichelis and Fernandinho can be said to be any kind of success.

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