Unless there’s a dramatic turnaround in events (and maybe based on recent history we should give him the benefit of the doubt), it’s highly likely Manuel Pellegrini won’t be Manchester City manager next season.
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There is still a Champions League second leg at Barcelona and Chelsea can theoretically be caught, but the odds are firmly stacked against the Chilean adding to his Premier League title last season.
Criticisms of his management are far and wide but what is curious that for all the 61-year-old’s apparent faults this term, another significant individual within the club continues to evade any kind of scrutiny.
Txiki Begiristain was brought to the Etihad Stadium in 2012 as director of football – with Ferran Soriano as chief executive – amid much fanfare, and rightfully so.
City had successfully prised away the man who had helped turn Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona into one of the all-time great sides, it was a genuine coup for the club.
The idea was to take the Barcelona model of establishing a football culture and identity based on sustainable success and adapt it to the Premier League.
However, two-and-a-half years down the line, what has actually been achieved?
Appointed in the wake of Roberto Mancini’s frustration with Brian Marwood’s performance in the department, the primary aspect of Begiristain’s job – player recruitment invites serious questioning.
Fernandinho and Martin Demichelis have been solid additions, and Jesus Navas has had some good moments but Alvaro Negredo, Stevan Jovetic, Fernando and Eliaquim Mangala have either been outright failures or are yet meet expectations.
Signing Bacary Sagna on a free from Arsenal can hardly be seen as ingenious and only Frank Lampard is a genuinely impressive manoeuvre in the market, and he won’t be playing after May.
For all the club’s resources, recruitment under Begiristain, especially when held up against Chelsea and Liverpool’s, has been poor.
Demichelis has been more of a stop-gap signing than a genuine top class performer alongside Vincent Kompany at the heart of the defence with the Stefan Savic and Matija Nastasic projects hastily abandoned, while we’re still waiting for Nigel De Jong’s true replacement to be found.
The transition of academy players to the first team, ala Barcelona, has also been non-existent with Jose Pozo’s 105 minutes this season the exception.
A lack of clarity over exactly what Begiristain’s role entails, of course, means he can look to the splendid City Academy and establishment of New York and Melbourne City as a measure of his success so far, but surely his modus operandi is what happens with the first team.
Should Pellegrini depart this summer, Begiristain may well have the defining say as to who should replace him. He needs to choose very wisely.
Bafetimbi Gomis wanted to carry on playing against Tottenham Hotspur despite fainting on the pitch in their 3-2 defeat, Swansea boss Garry Monk has revealed.
Liverpool has continued its terrific run of form with a 2-0 victory over Burnley while Chelsea has maintained its position at the top of the English Premier League ladder by defeating West Ham.
Liverpool saw off Burnley with goals from Jordan Henderson, his second in two games, and Daniel Sturridge. The Reds sit in fifth place, 12 points below Chelsea who remain in the lead of the competition after edging the Hammers.
VINE – What a Goal by Jordan Henderson – https://t.co/fRufz37RnH
— Total LFC (@TheTotalLFC) March 4, 2015
The Blues backed up their Capital One Cup win on Sunday with a 1-0 defeat of West Ham, thanks to a first half Eden Hazard strike.
The Belgian winger got his head on a cross from Ramires to hand Jose Mourinho’s men the lead in the first half and continue his fine goal-scoring efforts away from home.
Hazard continued to shine in an exciting game after the break and hit the post after linking up brilliantly with Diego Costa, before Ramires’ header was brilliantly denied by goalkeeper Adrian’s feet and James Tomkins cleared the ball off the line in the final minute.
— NBC Sports (@NBCSports) March 4, 2015
David Silva and James Milner struck late in each half as under-fire reigning champions Manchester City grabbed a scrappy but much-needed 2-0 win over Leicester.
Silva pounced from close range to put City ahead after an unconvincing start at the Etihad Stadium and Milner came off the bench to settle nerves in the last minute.
It was far from a fluent display from City but the result will at least take some of the heat off manager Manuel Pellegrini after a testing few days.
Manchester United struggled to break down Newcastle but took a 1-0 win from St James’ Park.
United had the better of the first half but Emmanuel Riviere could have had a penalty after tumbling after a challenge from Chris Smalling in the box and then watched a shot well saved by David De Gea.
After half-time, Tim Krul came to the rescue for Newcastle with a wonderful double save: first from Marouane Fellaini and then from Ashley Young’s rebound.
Jonas Gutierrez then returned to first-team action for the first time since October 2013, after recovering from testicular cancer, but was booked two minutes after arriving.
United looked like they might be headed for a draw, but Ashley Young popped up in the final minute to hand his side all three points.
Arsenal failed to get out of first gear but they beat QPR 2-1 thanks to goals from Olivier Giroud and Alexis Sanchez.
— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) March 4, 2015
In a dull first half, the Gunners could not break through and new signing Gabriel was taken off injured, with Laurent Koscielny replacing him.
However, they came out better in the second and Sanchez’s fine run and pass found Kieran Gibbs who found Giroud to net his 13th goal of the season.
Sanchez then got himself on the scoresheet in the 69th minute but Charlie Austin got one back for the home side with a thunderous shot from outside the area with 10 minutes to go.
Bafetimbi Gomis collapsed just minutes into Swansea’s match at Tottenham as it ended 3-2 at White Hart Lane.
The France striker, a summer signing from Lyon, went to ground as the players made their way to restart after Nacer Chadli gave Spurs an early lead.
Gomis was attended to for four minutes and left the field a stretcher, by which point he was conscious and wearing an oxygen mask, with medical staff later revealing that he was “fine.”
The game restarted and Ki Sung-Yeung levelled the scores on 19 minutes, but after the break Spurs went ahead against through Ryan Mason and Andros Townsend struck a wonderful shot into the top corner to make it 3-1 before Gylfi Sigurdsson scored a consolation against his old club.
Hugo Lloris then pulled off a stunning last-gasp save to secure all three points.
Everton’s poor form continued as they lost 2-0 to Stoke to ramp up the pressure on boss Roberto Martinez.
Moses goal inna the top ten for the season Victor Moses goal https://t.co/1czAWAQLx3“
— The Future (@3keeeys) March 4, 2015
A wonderful header from Victor Moses opened the scoring for Stoke in the 32nd minute and the Toffees were unable to get themselves back into the game.
Marko Arnautovic hit the post in the 84 minute and Mame Diouf buried the rebound to double the lead and leave Everton in real trouble of being dragged into the relegation battle.