EPL: Blueprint for success

EPL: Blueprint for success

When Manuel Pellegrini's father died last year, he never told his Malaga players. He did not want to disrupt their preparations.

Only after the game against Real Sociedad did he fly back to his hometown in Chile for the funeral. Only then did his players realise he had been in mourning for days.

When he played for Chile, the national side endured international criticism during the brutal days of Pinochet's military dictatorship.

When his playing career faltered, he studied civil engineering and helped to rebuilt homes after the 1985 Chilean earthquake.

When the Manchester City manager was asked if he felt pressure ahead of the title decider against West Ham on Sunday, Pellegrini smiled. Of course he did.

He has managed pressure since childhood. He can compartmentalise and control it. Behind the mask of soft sound-bites and boring press conferences is a natural-born leader who has brought balance to City.

He is the man to build a City empire.

1. Of fake mice and real men

Always watch out for the quiet ones. It's an old wives' tale that Jose Mourinho and Brendan Rodgers might care to remember.

If Pellegrini was a mouse, then he played Jerry to Mourinho's clumsy Tom.

The Chelsea boss played Top Cat, but fell victim to Pellegrini's mousetrap in the end. While Mourinho chastised and cajoled, Pellegrini withdrew and controlled.

Last season, Samir Nasri, Joe Hart and most of the back four expressed shock at Mancini's persistent sniping.

Before Christmas, Hart proved fallible once more. Pellegrini "rested" him.

The case was closed. He brooked no discussion and sidestepped any media minefields by saying almost nothing, publicly at least.

Hart returned resurrected. He had a literal hand in City's late title charge, while a happier Nasri (above) was content to be challenged only by fullbacks, rather than his own manager.

Mancini had poisoned the dressing room. Pellegrini instilled team spirit.

In a mercurial season of ups and downs, City were conspicuous by a lack of dissent. The quiet one had the final word.

2. Hail "The Engineer"

Pellegrini didn't just rebuild confidence, he rebuilt his players.

Known as El Ingeniero (The Engineer) at Villarreal, he gets the best out of players when it's least expected.

The names of Nasri, Yaya Toure, Martin Demichelis and, most certainly, Edin Dzeko can testify to that.

For Nasri, Pellegrini gave him an arm around the shoulder.

For Toure, he gave him Fernandinho. At £30 million (S$63 million), the Brazilian midfielder might be the world's most expensive water boy.

His fetching and carrying for the galloping gazelle beside him released a liberated Toure to scale heights beyond the lung capacity of most mortals.

In stark contrast, Demichelis was a laughing stock following crucial mistakes against Wigan, Chelsea and Barcelona, suggesting, at the time, that his errors had cost the club three trophies.

Amid the condemnation, everyone lost their head, except one.

Pellegrini said nothing. His team selections screamed loudest. He kept picking the defender. Both men were vindicated.

But Dzeko has been the true revelation. The Bosnian striker was bottom of the bargain bin when Pellegrini inherited him.

The Engineer tweaked City's attacking design. Dzeko finished the season with 16 league goals. City would not have prevailed without him.

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