Manuel Pellegrini's 5 Best Manchester City Decisions so Far
Manuel Pellegrini may have taken stock of Manchester City's season so far during the current round of international fixtures , so we'll do the same by looking at where the Chilean has got it right thus far.
OK, it's not all been smooth sailing.
Defeats on the road to Cardiff and Aston Villa in the Barclays Premier League have set the Blues back in their quest to regain the title, while the way they were pulled apart by Bayern Munich showed how far they still have to go in Europe.
But there's been a fair bit to admire about Pellegrini's progress, although as ever we invite and expect you to vent your spleen in the comments section below!
Bringing Unhappy Players on Board
The latter part of Roberto Mancini's reign were beset with signs and rumours that all was not well in the City camp, with some players frustrated under the Italian's rigid regime.
His replacement came with a reputation for good man-management from his time in Spain, and one of the most immediately noticeable things were better performances and happier demeanours from several of those said to be disaffected under Mancini.
Edin Dzeko looked sharp in the pre-season and carried that form into the season proper, while Samir Nasri and Aleksandar Kolarov looked to be benefiting from whatever it is the new boss has been doing behind the scenes.
Things had to improve after the way last season finished—City trudging off Wembley after losing to Wigan with stories about Mancini's departure already circulating was a huge embarrassment to the club's owners. Pellegrini has steadied the ship, up to a point—City's inconsistency must be ironed out for a title tilt to take shape.
Making Aguero the Main Man
Sergio Aguero was pretty good already, but he looks to have grown in stature with his performances so far this season.
The departure of Carlos Tevez should have ensured that Aguero would have become City's talisman up front, but there was some lingering doubt with the arrival of a new manager and new signings.
But Pellegrini appears to have decided that Aguero is the player his forward line will revolve around. There probably was not much doubt about that, and quite right too. His goal against Everton to take a first-half lead was superbly taken and there should be many more to come this term.
Bringing in Negredo
Alvaro Negredo may not have been the most box-office signing of the summer, despite his fee of around £20m, but he has settled in quickly to give Pellegrini more options.
Pellegrini has seen plenty of the Spain international in recent years, and if he had to persuade the City hierarchy that the 27-year-old was worth going for, then he did an excellent job.
With Stevan Jovetic struggling with an early-season injury, Pellegrini needed all three strikers to be firing, and having Negredo find his feet to the tune of four goals so far is one less potential headache.
Keeping the Press at Arm's Length
The weekly press conference has become a staple part of the football week, but Pellegrini seems to treat the whole rigmarole with utter disdain.
Roberto Mancini was popular with some of the journalists from the north west of England that cover City, but his successor does not appear to be too bothered with what the media thinks of him or his methods.
He's been charged with winning five trophies in as many years, and thus far that appears to be his sole mission. Courting the press does not appear to be on his agenda yet.
At the same time, stories from behind the scenes at City have largely dried up since Mancini's departure. That suggests a happy camp, something the club's publicity-conscious owners were keen to have after the debacle of how Mancini's departure was played out in public.
Pellegrini may soften yet, but he's been all business so far.
Laying Down an Attacking Marker in the Derby
Pellegrini could have been forgiven for taking a cautious approach in the Manchester derby, given that it came so early in his regime.
But the way David Moyes' side were ripped apart in that 4-1 result at Etihad Stadium showed how the Blues' boss wanted his sides to play.
It was an almost perfect performance, when everything came together just so, and City have not hit those heights consistently since. But, it worked well on the day and endeared the new man to the kind of City fans who simply demand that their local rivals be beaten and nothing more.
Sticking with Joe Hart
A couple of wobbly performances for club and country threw the spotlight onto Joe Hart early in the season, but Pellegrini was right to stick with City and England's number one.
Yes, the 26-year-old had a 'mare (to use proper football parlance) against Bayern, and yes, he's not under much pressure with Costel Pantilimon the next cab off the rank in the Blues' squad.
But it's not good to start chopping and changing your custodian, and it was right that Hart be given the chance to atone, which is the case for now.
Pellegrini may well bring in a better understudy, like Willy Caballero per Metro, in January but the bald facts are that he cannot until January. Hart is, ahem, head and shoulders above Pantilimon and now must prove Pellegrini right before his manager can bring in anyone else. Or not, as the case may be...