Former Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini has been hired by Chinese club Hebei China Fortune as the Chinese top flight adds another big name manager. He joins just three months after stepping down as manager of Manchester City in favor of Pep Guardiola.
The Chilean will match up with former Brazil manager Luiz Felipe Scolari, who currently heads current league leaders Guangzhou Evergrande, in his first game in charge on September 10. Evergrande sits 15 points adrift of Hebei in the table. Sven-Göran Eriksson also manages in the league, in charge of Guangzhou R&F.
Pellegrini inherits a squad that includes Ezequiel Lavezzi plus former Premier Leaguers Stephane M’bia, Gervinho, and Gael Kakuta. The club currently sits in fifth in the league table out of 16 teams, with seven matches remaining in the season.
Following Pellegrini’s departure from City, the 62-year-old said he wished to remain in the Premier League, but also that he would retire if he did not receive an offer that interested him.
Pellegrini replaces former Everton midfielder Li Tie, who worked previously under Marcelo Lippi at Evergrande before being hired as Hebei manager a year ago. Tie was in hot water after criticizing the Chinese national team selection process and travel planning in early July.
A source with close knowledge of the situation has also confirmed to ProSoccerTalk that the speculation linking current U.S. national team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann with the Southampton job is wide of the mark.
In fact, it is believed Klinsmann was never on the list of candidates to become Southampton’s next manager.
Klinsmann’s odds to become the next Saints manager were dramatically slashed from over 40-1 to 1-3 by several British bookmakers on Wednesday with money pouring in for the former German national team star.
With many U.S. fans critical of the German coach despite leading the USMNT to the semifinal — they were humbled 4-0 by Argentina on Tuesday — of the Copa America Centenario in this summer, it looks as though Klinsmann is set to remain in charge of the U.S. as his current contract runs out following the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
ProSoccerTalk understands that Pellegrini has been ruled out after talks led Southampton’s hierarchy to believe that the Chilean manager was not the right fit for the team. Pellegrini led Man City to the Premier League title during the 2013-14 season but was replaced with Pep Guardiola this summer after adding just two League Cup titles alongside his one PL crown during his three years in charge at the Etihad Stadium.
After finishing sixth in the Premier League last season, Saints lost manager Ronald Koeman to Everton earlier this month and have also been linked heavily with former Nice manager Claude Puel.
For now, the wait for a new manager at St Mary’s will go on with reports in the Daily Echo in Southampton claiming they want to appoint a new boss by July 4 ahead of the start of preseason.
“After Guardiola said he was coming to England it was my decision [to go public] because all the media was talking about Guardiola here, Guardiola in Arsenal, Guardiola in Manchester United,” he told The Guardian.
“It was not fair for all managers – when everyone knew he was coming here. If I ask if I would do that again… I have some doubts.”
Pellegrini said the announcement didn’t make it difficult for him, but for his players.
The Argentine also said he’ll wait for an interesting job to come calling, and that he could be done managing forever if such an opportunity doesn’t present itself. That said, we think he’ll find a job that’s to his liking given this comment:
“Of course, I would miss it. The challenge keeps me alive.”
“For me it’s been three wonderful, unforgettable years. Thanks to the fans for all, I will never forget you. Don’t change, because this team needs you and I’m sure next year you will do well in all competitions.
“Thank you all, I will see you.”
He’s a classy man, and part of us hopes there’s a landing spot somewhere in the Premier League for the Argentine. He’s been hard done-by at City, although turning down Pep Guardiola is a difficult thing for any club.
The first legs of the UEFA Champions League semifinals take place this week, as two La Liga clubs hope to take steps toward making the 2016 final a repeat of the 2014 Madrid Derby final.
That final, of course, carries one of the most deceptive score lines in soccer history, as Sergio Ramos’ stoppage time goal pushed Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid into stoppage time before Real completed the comeback with three extra time goals to win 4-1.
The roadblocks to a rematch are massive; Atletico Madrid has to knock off Bayern Munich while Real will square off with Manchester City.
Manchester City vs. Real Madrid — 2:45 p.m. ET Tuesday
There’s no love lost between Man City boss Manuel Pellegrini and his former employers. The Argentine was sacked after a season in which he won 75 percent of his matches for Real, leading to the legendary comment, “It’s no good having an orchestra with the 10 best guitarists if I don’t have a pianist.”
And so Pellegrini’s defiant final months as Man City boss continues with the chance to also tick off a former club. So he’s got that going for him, which is nice.
The Premier League powers enter this match as the underdog of this round, and will have to limit Real’s expected infliction of road goal damage in Leg No. 1.
No Yaya Toure is a blessing and a curse for Manuel Pellegrini’s Man City, as the mercurial playmaker would certainly be amped up to hit the big stage. But City may be better suited to implement its defensive system without the Ivorian.
The attacking talent is there on both sides, to be sure, as Kevin De Bruyne and Sergio Aguero meet Cristiano Ronaldo, James Rodriguez and Gareth Bale in an All-Star showdown.
There’s one area where City has a significant edge: Real boss Zinedine Zidane is a good managing prospect and a legend in the game, but only the craziest of Madridistas would claim he’s better prepared to contest this round than Pellegrini.
Atletico Madrid vs. Bayern Munich — 2:45 p.m. ET Wednesday
Pep’s crew has allowed just 14 goals in 31 matches while scoring 74 in Bundesliga. Atleti? It’s allowed just two more goals in four more matches.
It’s difficult to judge records across leagues, but the defensive records are almost as magical. The Bundesliga is a better league top-to-bottom than La Liga, but both records are impressive.
Both Diego Simeone and Pep Guardiola have great records in the tournament, but the edge in paper goes to Bayern’s explosive attack. Expect Atleti to explore a similar system to the tactical one employed in its upset of Barcelona.
Bayern presents a bigger physical challenge than Barca, though, and that could be the determining factor with Guardiola’s unit favored to advance to another final.