Manuel Pellegrini can look like a dead man walking at times with his cheekbones increasingly sunken, frown lines ever more prominent and pinkish hue encompassing his piercing blue eyes.
That, though, is part and parcel of the job, albeit the unflustered Chilean claims not to feel the pressure that accompanies high octane football management.
You do not accept invitations from Arab Sheikhs to be the public face of one of their sporting fancies and expect the job to be easy. The stakes are high in a multi-billion pound global industry, but so too are the financial rewards and the constant probing by an intrusive media pack.
It’s a precarious profession, even if, like the professorial Pellegrini, you have a trade on which to fall back, if it all went horribly wrong.
But, having won numerous league titles and domestic trophies in Chile, Ecuador, Argentina and more latterly, England, Pellegrini won’t be calling on his civil engineering degree any time soon, even if his P45 could be in the post sometime between now and May 25th.
Pellegrini may be readying himself for such a delivery in the summer, with it probably wise that he steers well clear of his local postie once the 2014/15 campaign comes to a close.
Defeat at the Nou Camp and a Champions League exit at the hands of Barcelona for a second consecutive season, means City are now short odds to end the season trophy-less – barring a complete Mourinho malfunction and Chelsea collapse.
It’s an unacceptable situation for a club that toasted a domestic double under their current management team in 2013/14.
Pellegrini does, however, have history when it comes to short reigns – be they enforced or otherwise. He may now feel that he has spent long enough in the Etihad goldfish bowl and that a change of scenery will be of benefit to all concerned.
If you believe some of what you read, that decision may have already been taken for him. Who, though, steps into his shoes if he is ushered through the exit door?
Markets have already been opened – which may seem a little premature – but if the pistol is locked and loaded, why not?
The usual suspects figure prominently towards the top of the betting, with Carlo Ancelotti – hero come villain at Real Madrid – a logical option given his track record and previous Premier League and Champions League experience.
It is, however, the name of Brendan Rodgers that has been causing something of a stir of late.
Where has that rumour come from? Why would such a deal make sense for either party?
For all that he has done right at Liverpool, he has done just as much wrong.
Rodgers has enjoyed success in domestic cup competitions this season with Liverpool figuring favourably in League Cup betting, before falling to Chelsea in the semi final, and now seeking an FA Cup semi final with Aston Villa, subject to beating Blackburn in their quarter final replay.
Lifting cups is all well and good, but it can only ever be the hors d’ oeuvre to the main course of winning league titles and Champions League glory. It’s the benchmark that differentiates the good from the truly great managers.
Rodgers carried the Anfield outfit close to the Premier League crown last season, before finding City too tough a nut to crack.
Since then, troublesome but equally brilliant, talisman Luis Suarez has been sold to City’s European conquerors, Barcelona, and Liverpool spluttered through the first half of the 2014/15 campaign.
The Merseysiders are now making up much of the lost ground and challenging for what had seemed a most unlikely top four finish, as Rodgers’ new look team has gelled since the turn of the year.
Notwithstanding Liverpool’s rich vein of form, why would City stump up the compensation that would be required to lure a coach of promise away from a bitter North West rival?
Rodgers remains a nearly man at present. That situation may change in the years to come, but for now he still has much to prove.
City have not evolved in such spectacular fashion under Sheikh Mansour’s guardianship, achieved the status they now enjoy and won the trophies of recent times to place it all in the hands of an individual with mere potential, but no discernible track record of solid achievement…have they?
If, and it’s a BIG IF, if Pellegrini has been read the last rites, surely the men from Abu Dhabi will only entrust their prized Premier League asset to a proven performer, not a pretender with a distinctly empty trophy cabinet.
Ancelotti, Pep Guardiola, Diego Simeone or someone of that ilk would presumably figure prominently in Khaldoon Al Mubarak and Ferran Soriano’s thoughts, if as and when the City Chairman and CEO opt for change.
A shock move for Rodgers would send seismic waves rippling down the East Lancs Road to a distinctly unhappy set of Blue Mooners with whom ‘Brenda’ would win few popularity contests.
Rodgers has pledged himself to Liverpool amidst aspirations to create a new dynasty on Merseyside.
The Irishman is making all the right noises for his Anfield audience, but in the fickle and unforgiving world of football who knows what lurks around the corner or further down the road…in this case the M62?
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