On one brave boss in Manchester

Manuel Pellegrini

Both sides of the city taunt each other with the same old song.

There's only one team in Manchester.

Of course the chant isn't true, but alter the lyrics a little and the popular putdown paints a more accurate picture.

There's only one brave team in Manchester.

Tomorrow morning (Singapore time), Joe Hart will watch Manchester City's Champions League endeavours from the bench. His role against CSKA Moscow is relegated to one of reluctant cheerleader.

Over in Spain at the same time, familiar faces are expected to trot out for Manchester United against Real Sociedad.

Shinji Kagawa may or may not be involved.

If he starts, he's unlikely to finish.

The Japanese midfielder's chances of fulfilling his professional obligations for a full 90 minutes are slim.

Wilfried Zaha, on the other hand, is already the forgotten £15 million ($29.7m) man. Sir Alex Ferguson's final signing is the first to underline David Moyes' hesitancy when it comes to picking the unpredictable.

United's manager prefers his happy endings to come from familiar storylines, rather than tales of the unexpected.

Recent stories claim that United are already prepared to swop Zaha and £7m for Leighton Baines.

The obsession with Everton - an overachieving outfit that never won a trophy under Moyes - continues to stall United's evolution.

The Scot still looks to his past to fix United's future. Manuel Pellegrini is very much preoccupied with the present.

Hart made too many mistakes. His new manager didn't hesitate. If fortune favours the brave, Pellegrini will end the season dripping in silver.

Roberto Mancini mocked his goalkeeper's clangers in press conferences, believing that personal attacks and rabble rousing were more effective than rest and recuperation.

Pellegrini believes the pen is mightier than the tongue.

He crossed Hart off his team sheet.

Betraying no emotion, the City manager confirmed yesterday that Costel Pantilimon will be his No. 1 for the foreseeable future.

Difficult position

Hart's next game could be for England in their upcoming friendlies against Chile and Germany, which puts Roy Hodgson in a difficult position.

His goalkeeper will pick up international caps after spending the best part of a month picking up splinters.

That's not Pellegrini's problem. His decisiveness reveals an inner resolve that has hitherto not been recognised.

Names do not concern him. He picks players, not egos. He was hired to build City's brand in the Champions League, not support Hodgson's World Cup campaign. Hart remains the best goalkeeper available to both Pellegrini and Hodgson, but a mistake too many earned an enforced rest and a chance to refocus.

The decision was difficult. The outcome remains uncertain. But Pellegrini didn't hesitate. He took the risk.

Moyes appears to prefer the easier option.

Four consecutive victories against lesser opposition keep the critics at bay for the time being, but the nagging suspicion remains that he errs on the side of caution too often.

Fulham spent most of their afternoon at Craven Cottage playing musical statues without telling anyone. A gusty breeze would've blown them over. And still, United's starting 11 reeked of caution.

Kagawa's pace and invention were weapons tailor-made for Fulham's ageing plodders. He didn't make the starting 11.

Instead Moyes favoured the industry of Phil Jones and Tom Cleverley. Kagawa got on at half-time - when United were already 3-0 up - and Adnan Januzaj played the full game. But speculation remains that the Japanese star could follow Zaha through the Old Trafford exit.

They are risks that their manager does not appear overly keen on taking.

Pellegrini has no such qualms. He will chop and change his way through the Champions League and the Premier League.

He has the luxury of strength in depth, of course, but Mancini was similarly blessed last season and still kept faith with Hart.

Pantilimon has not featured in the Champions League since 2009, but his inclusion against CSKA Moscow sends clear messages to Hart, his teammates and their opponents.

Pellegrini will sacrifice popular players in his pursuit of trophies.

No one is safe. Team sheets are not carved in stone. Formations are fluid.

Expect further dramatic changes if necessary.

He will take risks.

The mission statement is a bold one and not one likely to be followed at Old Trafford.

The more things change at City; the more they stay the same at United.

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