Pellegrini brings relaxed air to City

Manuel Pellegrini is ready to hit the ground the running as his Manchester City career begins in earnest tonight.

Pellegrini brings relaxed air to City

The Chilean has slipped effortlessly into the managerial hot seat vacated at the Etihad Stadium by Roberto Mancini at the end of last season.

Pellegrini already claims to feel at home and is comfortable with his squad as he prepares to launch their Premier League campaign at home to Newcastle tonight.

The 59-year-old has a daunting challenge ahead, having been told the club not only want to win the biggest prizes, but want to do so in style and with a harmonious dressing room.

He also has a host of other responsibilities relating to City’s much-noted “holistic approach” to all footballing matters but none of this fazes him.

The former Villarreal, Real Madrid and Malaga boss said: “It is my first time here in England and it is a different league.

“(Whether it is) more difficult or less difficult, we will see during the year, but for me (it is) exactly the same. I worked for nine years in Europe and I saw a lot of matches in the Premier League every weekend.

“I played in the Champions League against English Premier League teams so I know a lot about this.

“And living here now, of course, I see more.”

The mood at the club has been transformed since the turbulent final weeks of the last campaign when, with the title already surrendered, City lost the FA Cup final and Mancini was sacked.

There was widespread dismay at Mancini’s removal just a year after winning the Premier League but Pellegrini’s calmness, composure and confidence has done much to win people over.

With nearly £90 million (€105m) spent on new players Fernandinho, Jesus Navas, Alvaro Negredo and Stevan Jovetic, there is also a freshness about the squad.

Captain Vincent Kompany has noticed the difference.

The Belgium international said: “I think I look at our squad and I am really pleased with the kind of players we have got in. They are not just great players but great characters.”

City were joint favourites along with Chelsea for the title prior to the season kicking off, with champions Manchester United third and Arsenal a distant fourth.

Pellegrini, however, is convinced the race is wide open. Asked who he anticipated as rivals, he said: “Normally the same clubs that every year are trying to win the Premier League — Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool, Tottenham. All of them are important but always, every year, a club has a surprise. Maybe another club can do it this year.”

But asked if he was confident of City’s chances, he said: “Of course.”

For his part, Newcastle boss Alan Pardew is looking forward to the new campaign. Pardew said: “I think we’ve worked hard on pre-season and got the group in fantastic condition.

“Last year was difficult for us, not only with the extra games but also because it was compounded by an injury crisis. We will be better armed next time we go into Europe and that’s where we want to play.”

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