If Manuel Pellegrini’s exit hadn’t already been confirmed, as Pep Guardiola takes charge this summer, many Manchester City fans would be calling for his head right now. The 0-0 draw against Norwich on the weekend not only cemented City’s exclusion from the title race it also put them in danger of missing out on a top four spot altogether. West Ham are on their heels, Manchester United are within striking distance and even Liverpool could make a run at them.
The Carling Cup is cute but if that’s all City end up with this season then Pellegrini will leave the club under something of a cloud. However, if he can somehow lift the Champions League before he departs it’ll be a satisfying middle finger to his critics and those who chose to replace him.
The scoffing will have started before the previous sentence was even completed but it’s not the most ludicrous idea. Of the last six Champions League winning managers not one managed to last more than a year in the job after lifting the trophy. Last year’s winner Luis Enrique is likely to be the exception as there is no indication he’ll be leaving the Camp Nou this summer.
Of the other five Jose Mourinho left Inter Milan immediately after winning in 2010. Pep Guardiola left Barcelona one year after winning in 2011. Roberto DiMatteo only lasted until the following November after leading Chelsea to the trophy in 2012. Jupp Heynckes’ departure from Bayern Munich had already been confirmed when he lead the club to the treble in 2013 and Carlo Ancelotti was sacked by Real Madrid in May 2015 having won the tournament the previous season. Winning Europe’s biggest competition does not help on the job security front.
Before we get way too far ahead of ourselves City have a second leg against Dynamo Kiev to get through. Which they will if the Ukrainian champions’ previous record on English soil is anything to go by.
Dynamo Kiev have played thirteen European games in England winning a grand total of bugger all, losing eleven times with just the two draws. Despite being knocked out by Kiev in the Europa League in 2011, City did win the home leg 1-0. A narrow scoreline which has been very much the norm when Dynamo play in England.
Manchester City’s games in Europe tend to be tighter than their domestic encounters with 4 of their 7 Champions League games this season being decided by a single goal. In fact 16 of their 35 Champions League games have been decided by a one goal margin.
Kiev may not win in England but they at least do enough to keep things close. The most common scoreline they have lost by in England is 2-1. Fittingly enough 3 of City’s 7 Champions League games this season have finished by the same scoreline.