Real Madrid’s Galáctico project has so far attracted it’s first big money star in Kaka but their best signing could arguably be securing the signature of coach Manuel Pelligrini from Villarreal.
President Florentino Perez’s bid to to try and tempt Arsene Wenger to the Spanish Capital failed but has been assured by his general director, Jorge Valdano, that they have hired an equally capable and possibly even better coach. “We have always been attracted by the Frenchman and we talked to him several times,” said Perez. “He didn’t come because he feels very responsible about what has happened and what will happen at Arsenal. He didn’t want to abandon the club that he has given such a lot to.
“But as (director general Jorge) Valdano said: ‘Pellegrini is the Wenger of Spanish football’.”
The Chilean coach worked wonders at his previous club, Villarreal bringing success to a small town club whose population could easily fit into the Emirates stadium. The strategy in the long term was to develop their own players from their academy but in the shot term, looked to tap into the endless supply of talent in the South American market. “Always putting priority on treating the ball well, we’ve also added more mobility,” Pellegrini says. “It’s a mixture of South American and European football.”
He has more than a hint of Arsene Wenger in the way he thinks and goes about his work; he is a qualified civil engineer owing much to his analytical nature and on the pitch, likes his team to play with style. “People want to be entertained and the coach has a responsibility for that,” he says. “I have five footballers with an obligation to attack: two strikers, two creative midfielders and one of the full-backs. I’ve always got two players in the rivals’ half to arm our offensive game. The quality has to come from the players.”
But Manuel Pellegrini’s stand out asset from many other coaches is his relationships with players and how he manages them. With big ego’s likely to clash at his new job, this role could not be more important. “I’m not obsessed by football,” he states. “When I started to be a coach I expected a lot, maybe too much in terms of physical approach, tactics and technique. There was too little emphasis on human relationships.
“The manager who just knows about football is lacking. To lead a group of players is to lead a group of people with different ways of thinking.”
And with Kaka already a done deal and Ibrahimovic and Ronaldo next on the club’s radar he would have to be at his best to stop a ego clash of Galáctico proportions.