The smile on Pellegrini’s face was a rare glimpse of emotion from the unflappable Chilean, who has done a magnificent job in taking over a divided dressing room and winning both the league title and Capital One Cup in his first 12 months in charge.
“It was a moment to celebrate when we finished the game so any kind of celebration is allowed,” joked Pellegrini when asked about the “bumps” being performed on him.
“But from the moment I arrived here, relations between players were not at the best moment and it was important to have calm and convince all of them how to play and how important it was to be very close, all of us, with the manager players and fans to try to win a very difficult title.”
Pellegrini’s side finished the season with 102 Premier League goals, an astonishing 156 in all competitions, and, in a veiled criticism of Mancini, he revealed how important it was to change the club’s football philosophy when he arrived.
“The first thing is, it is very important to go for the match from the beginning,” he said. “It doesn’t matter where you play, who you play.
“It is easy to score one goal then all go behind the ball and be a team that plays counter-attack. But for me, to win titles just in that way, I would not be happy. To win the title the way we did with 102 goals, with record goals in other competitions, is the way this team must play because of the quality of players we have.”
Losing manager Sam Allardyce remains the subject of intense speculation about his future in charge of the club and made a half-hearted case in his own defence ahead of meetings this week with the club’s owners.
“We have had no real threat of relegation for a while and we have done the job after our difficulties in January,” said Allardyce when asked about his future.