Fans aren’t finding Manuel faulty now

Defeat by Barcelona was a rare set-back for City boss Manuel Pellegrini
Defeat by Barcelona was a rare set-back for City boss Manuel Pellegrini
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Last time Manchester City played at Wembley their fans made it clear they were not happy at the prospect of Manuel Pellegrini taking charge of the team.

The occasion was the FA Cup final last May, a day that started badly with strong rumours emerging about the imminent departure of the popular Roberto Mancini – and got considerably worse as Wigan pulled off a shock win.

The atmosphere among City fans, on what should have been a joyous afternoon, was rancorous.

Mancini was the manager who guided the club to their first major trophy in 35 years in the FA Cup in 2011 and followed up by winning a first league title since 1968 12 months later.

To the supporters it was inconceivable the club could end his tenure and they made it known, rather crudely, what they thought by saying where Pellegrini could go.

But the decision was made, the fans got over it and Chilean Pellegrini swept into Eastlands like a breath of fresh air.

The pressure was immediately on him as he was handed the ultra-demanding triple task of winning silverware, playing better football and improving dressing room morale.

On the latter two points he immediately hit the ground running.

He promised a free-flowing attacking game and the results have been spectacular.

Norwich conceded seven at Eastlands, Arsenal and Tottenham six, Manchester United four. Spurs shipped another five to City at White Hart Lane.

There is no doubt morale improved, with the regular stories of disharmony under Mancini becoming a thing of the past. Now comes the third piece of the jigsaw, winning trophies.

Chief executive Ferran Soriano said last summer five trophies in five years was the aim, and beating Sunderland in this weekend’s Capital One Cup final would be a good start. Victory would provide the platform for more to follow in what could be a glorious campaign.

Talk of the quadruple may have subsided since a damaging loss to Barcelona in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie last week, but domestic domination is still in their sights.

There is still much to do, however, to ensure all the exhilarating football of the season so far yields tangible reward.

The Premier League title race remains a tight one with Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool in contention. The FA Cup bid – with a Wigan rematch in the quarter-finals – still has some way to run.

Pellegrini also has questions to answer. For all his renowned man-management and motivational skills, he has few honours to his name.

He did win league titles in Ecuador and Argentina but is regularly reminded that his only trophy in Europe was an Intertoto Cup with Villarreal a decade ago.

Delivering on Sunday for a fanbase still hungry for trophies could ensure his name is sung in much more pleasant tones around the national stadium this year.