If knee-jerkism is rife in football punditry, then Rodney Marsh is its king purveyor. Never one to miss an opportunity to spout an instant, ill-thought-out opinion, here is the former Manchester City star’s take on his old club’s current manager Manuel Pellegrini.
“I think he will get the sack. There is every chance, if this carries on, that Pellegrini will be out, the same as [Roberto] Mancini was. Mancini won the Premier League and the following year finished second and he was sacked.
“If Pellegrini carries on like this, and Man City don’t win the league or get to the final at least of the Champions League, which is looking dodgy as well, I think Pellegrini is sacked. He could go earlier. I think it is on a really fine balance now”.
The Marshes of this world might look at the 11/5 that City have a new manager on 1st September 2015 as a good bet, but the 3/10 that Pellegrini is still in post come then is the only possible outcome.
Now, there is no denying that City are not playing well, a fact that Pellegrini himself admits. There is also little debating that defeat to suddenly in-form Newcastle, a side the Citizens had swatted away with ease for 11 consecutive matches prior to Wednesday’s humbling 2-0 home reverse, leaves the champions’ confidence in tatters, not to mention their defence of their Capital One Cup crown in ruins.
Yet to suggest that the former Malaga boss has the sword of Damocles hanging over him just a quarter into his second season is a daft rush to judgement that not only ignores that the Chilean enjoys a much more sanguine relationship with his employers than his predecessor, but also fails to take into account what was happening a year ago.
The similarities with last term are, fittingly for Halloween, scary. By 31st October 2013, City had won five of their nine league matches, the same total as they have managed this time around, yet have tasted defeat just twice this term compared to three away defeats to Cardiff, Aston Villa and Chelsea.
So the men from the Etihad are actually one point better off than they were last season, having scored two fewer times but also yielding just 10 goals against compared to 11 at the same stage.
Critically, the gap to the team in first place, Jose Mourinho’s Blues, is six points – exactly the same as it was to the leaders 12 months ago, Arsenal.
All this having faced four of last season’s top six before November compared to just two in 2013/14.
True, the Chilean has failed to make a mark on the Champions League – even if he guided the club to their knockout stage debut – but after being handed another devilishly tough section featuring Bayern Munich and Roma, some concession will be made.
And given that the ex-Villarreal chief has shown he can overcome sticky starts to deliver glory when it matters, the Etihad hierarchy are unlikely to get trigger happy any time soon, proving Marsh wrong – again.