Saturday, June 5, 2010

An Ode to Manuel Pellegrini

I REALLY Hoped Manuel Pellegrini could stay. It wasn't to be however.
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2 days upon returning from a blissful wedding & honeymoon, I awoke up to the horrifying (albeit not a shocking one) reality that Manuel Pellegrini had finally been fired and Jose Mourinho, fresh from leading Inter into its first ever treble had been appointed as the new Real Madrid manager.
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I had spent the last months of the season defending Manuel Pellegrini. This is not to say that the Chilean was immaculate. After all, his teams failed miserably in the the Copa Del Rey and Champions League. His team had also failed everytime in defeating the truly big teams which of course included Milan, Lyon and of course Barcelona... and he did of course get a lot of stick from the critics for his   deserved the support of Madridisimo despite debacles. He had led us to a 95-point total after incorporating 7 new players into the squad: many of whom had enormous egos. He further had to deal with a dilemma that haunted Real Madrid in particular: what to do with the ageing canteranos Raul & Guti. In the end he had also turned the squad into a goal scoring machine that eventually found a definitively attractive style of play that was very much consistent to Real Madrid's identity as an exciting attacking team. 95 points in the league would normally turn you into the runaway winners of the title... it was not to be however against this Martian Barcelona team. And in the end, the poor Chilean had paid the ultimate price. I nodded in full agreement with Corey when he once said that Pellegrini had the makings of a Vicente Del Bosque-type of character that the club needed: calm, mature and low-key in personality but a believer in aggressive, attacking and attractive football: the kind of football that Madridistas love to watch and Madridismo's star soldiers (Kaka, CR9, Pipita & co.).
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The signs I suppose were on the walls even from the beginning: given an unusually short 2-year contract by a president who had promised stability and continuity of his new project. He was widely regarded as Valdano's choice following the reaction of Madridisimo at the prospect of Carlo Ancelotti taking over the bench and the failure for the Nth time to lure Arsene Wenger to the Bernabeu.
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He dealt with the press and pundits, especially the vicious Marca with grace, never returning fire but instead choosing to go about his work, racking up wins and getting his teams to score bucket-loads of goals. He was liked by the players, supported by many of the fans and his Director General (Valdano). Sadly, we find that in these days, the egos of a very few matter much more.
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So now the fate of Madridisimo lies in the hands of the Capello-esque Jose Mourinho (more on him in the coming days). A well-paid, defensive-minded, walking insurance policy for titles... as we head into the era of the 'Special One' at Real Madrid... I wish to send a 'Gracias Senor' to Mr. Manuel Pellegrini.

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