There seems to be a growing acceptance of the fact that Manuel Pellegrini will pay for the stagnation of Manchester City’s Champions League progress with his job.
In the wake of the Citizens’ round-of-16 exit at the hands of Barcelona the Chilean is just 11/10 not to be in charge at the Etihad on September 1, 2015.
Pellegrini won the Premier League in his first season at City, also leading them into the knockout stages of Europe’s foremost club competition for the first time.
This term he has equalled the second of those achievements, while the Sky Blues are still in there swinging in second place as they bid to retain their domestic crown.
At worst Pellegrini is guilty of treading water, yet he remains the lightning conductor for any flack related to the club’s failure to become a genuine Champions League force.
All the while the City director of football Txiki Begiristain must be perspiring gently into his designer shirt, aware that it can only be so long, or so many more managers, until someone begins to suspect that he may be the problem.
Begiristain joined the staff at the Etihad in October 2012, having left a similar role at Barcelona in 2010, after seven years at Camp Nou and is 2/1 not to be working in Manchester this coming September.
During his tenure the Spaniard has taken overall responsibility for the club’s transfer policy, shelling out £143.7m on players, while recouping just £40m.
Fernandinho, Jesús Navas, Álvaro Negredo, Stevan Jovetić, Martin Demichelis, Bacary Sagna, Fernando, Willy Caballero, Bruno Zuculini, Eliaquim Mangala, Frank Lampard, Wilfried Bony have been acquired at a loss of more than £100m.
Of those 11 players, three were considered trusted enough to start the second leg against Barcelona and it would have been two but for some fitness doubts over Pablo Zabaleta.
Fernandinho and Demichelis were the other Begiristain buys to make the XI, but neither are likely to have been making elite club managers’ hearts go pitter patter with their performances this term.
Two seasons of underwhelming acquisitions stand in stark contrast to the aggressive buying strategies of the sides City should be aiming to rival.
FC Bayern Munchen, Real Madrid, Barcelona and even Chelsea bid big on stars that are already proving themselves at the highest level for rivals of continental repute.
Rather than blame Pellegrini for his failure to turn City into a latter stage Champions League side it’s time to put the man who has failed to source players capable of making the step up under the microscope.