Familiar pattern fuelling criticism of Manchester City’s Manuel Pellegrini 0

Manuel Pellegrini apologist though I am, the Chilean’s conduct in the post-game press-conference on Tuesday night was not his finest hour - in fact, even in an age where conspiracy-theories are en vogue, his remarks about Swedish referee Jonas Eriksson were eye-watering.

Regardless, some of the criticism that he’s receiving - the parts relating to his match-preparation and general job-performance - are embarrassing, and reek of the familiar British suspicion of foreign coaches.

Here’s Brian Reade in The Mirror last night:

“Now, after wrestling with a design to bring down the team he could have avoided, added doubt is cast on Pellegrini’s nickname.

Because he’s come across more as a cowboy builder struggling to put together an IKEA flat-pack than Isambard Kingdom Brunel.”

How personal is that? And what is it really based on?

“Much has been made about City’s transformation from a team who 15 years ago this week had a match against Macclesfield, into one which now plays with the Gods.

And it’s true.

But what’s also true is that the man in charge back then, Joe Royle, couldn’t have done a worse job this week than Pellegrini has.”

Ok, so that’s what this about - it’s the usual ‘they took our jobs’ nonsense.

As I said earlier in the week in relation to the narrative surrounding Arsene Wenger, a manager’s job performance isn’t assessed by binary code - that is to say we need to stop assessing them in extremities. At the very top end of the Premier League managers are innovative visionaries one week and catastrophes the next, there never seems to be any middle ground.

I know that newspapers have to attract hits, and I understand that columnists are under-pressure to deliver attention-grabbing headlines and articles, but there’s something about our national habit of attacking foreign managers’ reputations that makes me extremely uncomfortable.

We saw this earlier in the season with Andre Villas-Boas; when a foreign manager is seen to under-perform, he’s mocked and derided in very personal way. It doesn’t stop with a critique of tactics or team-selection, more often than not it’s a complete assault on everything that manager has done in the past or is doing now.

Manchester City were actually pretty good until the red-card and penalty on Tuesday night, and so I’m not sure how or why this stinging criticism is justified?

Maybe it’s because the foreign managers are thought of as a transient presence in the Premier League, or because they don’t belong to the same network of back-slappers as a lot of the English managers, but these kind of articles just feel very opportunistic and disproportionate.

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