Manuel Luis Pellegrini Ripamonti (Spanish pronunciation: [maˈnwel peleˈɣɾini]; born 16 September 1953) is a Chilean professional football manager and former footballer and is currently the head coach of Chinese Super League side Hebei China Fortune. As a coach, he has managed teams mostly in Spain, Argentina, Chile and Ecuador. A qualified civil engineer and former footballer, after retiring as a player, he moved into coaching in his native Chile and subsequently Argentina. Pellegrini has won national leagues in four different countries.
Pellegrini moved to Europe in 2004 to take the manager's post at Villarreal, a club near Valencia. Under Pellegrini, Villarreal achieved a third-place finish in La Liga in 2004–05, a Champions League semi-final in 2005–06 and broke the big two in 2008 by securing a second-place finish in La Liga in 2007–08.
Pellegrini's consistent record at Villarreal attracted the attention of Real Madrid and he was appointed manager there in 2009. He amassed a total of 96 points, a club record until it was surpassed by José Mourinho in the 2011–12 season, but lost the title to Barcelona by three points. He was dismissed after one season and later lamented the Galácticos policy employed at Real which prevented him from building a balanced team.
Pellegrini took up the manager's role at Málaga in November 2010. He led Málaga to a fourth-place finish in his first full season and to qualification for the UEFA Champions League. He made it to the quarter-finals of the 2012–13 Champions League, becoming the only coach to take two different teams to the Champions League quarter-finals in their debut seasons in the competition. On 22 May 2013, Pellegrini confirmed he would leave Málaga at the end of the 2012–13 La Liga season. On 14 June 2013, he was appointed manager of Manchester City, and won the Football League Cup and Premier League in his first season as manager, in the process becoming the first manager from outside Europe to manage a team to the English Premier League title. The title winning season was also noted for goal scoring prowess with Manchester City scoring 151 goals in all competitions - an English football record.
Born in Santiago, Chile to Italian parents, Pellegrini attended the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile in Santiago, where he graduated in civil engineering in 1979. He started his formative years as a footballer in the youth divisions of Audax Italiano, then he went to the Club Universidad de Chile and he went on to play professionally for them as a defender. He spent his entire playing career with the club, making a total of 451 appearances and scoring seven goals in the Chilean Division 1, including one goal against Colo-Colo, Universidad de Chile’s biggest rival.
In the 1970s, Club Universidad de Chile was going through one of the most unsuccessful periods in its history, not having won the national Copa Chile championship since 1969. That changed in 1979, when the club managed win the championship and secure a place in the South American club championship, the Copa Libertadores, in 1980, defeating its arch-rival Colo-Colo in both tournaments.
Pellegrini decided to retire as a player in 1984 after a match against Cobreandino. He explained: "We were playing in the Copa Chile against Cobreandino. Our goalkeeper parried the shot of a rival player, I jumped to clear the ball, and from behind me came a 17-year-old boy who jumped half a meter above me, and scored. That day I decided I couldn't keep going". That boy was Iván Zamorano, who was the Pichichi of La Liga in 1995 with Real Madrid. Pellegrini confessed: "If I had known where that boy would get, I would not have retired. I would have kept playing two more years."
As a coach Pellegrini has primarily managed teams in Spain, Argentina and Chile. As in his career as a professional player, he also started off coaching Universidad de Chile during the 1988 season, but left the team at the middle of the season to take football coaching courses in Europe. The team's poor performance that year led to a relegation to the Division 2, though in 1989 they won the Division 2 championship, bringing them back to Division 1, where they have remained ever since.
In 1990, Arturo Salah was appointed as the manager of the Chilean national team, and he hired Pellegrini as his assistant coach and manager of the under-20 team. In 1990, Pellegrini was appointed manager of Palestino, where he stayed until 1992. Then, in 1992, he took on managership of O'Higgins for a year, before moving in 1993 to become coach of Universidad Católica, one of the most popular clubs in Chile. There he managed well-known players such as Alberto Acosta and Nestor Gorosito and took the team to victory in the prestigious Copa Interamericana in 1994 and the 1995 Copa Chile, though he could only finish as runner-up in 1994 and 1995 of the local Campeonato Nacional championship, a competition organized by the Chilean Football Federation in parallel to Division 1.
In 1998, Pellegrini had a brief spell back at Palestino before he was bought by Liga Deportiva Universitaria de Quito. He managed the Ecuadorian club to a national title in 1999, starting a tradition of coaches that followed him to the Ecuadorian team. Pellegrini also gave the club a good run in the Copa Libertadores, catching the eye of other South American managers.
Pellegrini joined Argentine club San Lorenzo de Almagro in 2001, one of only two non-Argentineans to manage the Buenos Aires team, and led them to their first international title in the Copa Mercosur. He was recommended to the club by San Lorenzo icon Nestor Gorosito, who had worked with Pellegrini at Universidad Católica. The recommendation paid dividends as Pellegrini led San Lorenzo to victory in the Argentine Clausura and the Copa Mercosur, South America's UEFA Cup equivalent.
Pellegrini managed Argentine club River Plate from 2002 to 2003 and secured the Clausura championships in 2003, in which he utilised the talents of Andrés D'Alessandro, one of many Argentine playmakers to have been likened to Diego Maradona. His sale to Vfl Wolfsburg, however, proved a tough hurdle for Pellegrini to overcome and his side struggled to defend their status as Argentine champions in the 2003 Torneo Apertura. He resigned his post at the end of the campaign.
Pellegrini took over the managerial duties of Villarreal CF on 1 July 2004. In his first season in charge of the club, Villarreal qualified for the UEFA Champions League after finishing third in the league and reached the quarter-finals of the UEFA Cup. The following season, Villarreal reached the semi-finals of the 2005–06 UEFA Champions League, losing to Arsenal. Villarreal eventually finished seventh in La Liga that year. The following two seasons featured Villarreal finishing in both fifth and second place in the league, the latter being historic for the club. Pellegrini led El Submarino Amarillo to the Champions League knockout stages, where they drew Arsenal once again in the quarter-finals, losing out 4–1 on aggregate.
At the end of 2007, Villarreal offered Pellegrini an extended contract until 2011. On 31 May 2009, after the last La Liga match for Villarreal, Pellegrini said: "Nobody from Real Madrid has spoken with me. I have a contract with Villarreal, we finished the league today, and tomorrow we go on holiday," after being questioned by the press on rumours that he was in talks with Madrid. On 1 June 2009, a Villarreal executive announced that Pellegrini would no longer continue at the club. The Valencian club executive specified that if Real Madrid wanted to sign the Chilean coach, they would have to pay Pellegrini's €4 million termination clause.
On 1 June 2009, Pellegrini was appointed as manager of Real Madrid, signing a two–year contract. On being presented at the presidential balcony of the Santiago Bernabéu, he said, "Hard to say in a few words the excitement and pride that one feels for having been chosen to direct perhaps the most important club in the world." He joined Real Madrid as the first manager in Florentino Pérez's second stint as Real Madrid president. After a few days, Pellegrini bought Kaká from Milan, saying, "If we want to win the Champions League and be the best team in the world, we need the best players in the world." They later bought Cristiano Ronaldo for £80 million from Manchester United, Karim Benzema from Olympique Lyonnais for £30 million, and Xabi Alonso for £30 million from Liverpool.
In July 2009, Pellegrini competed in his first cup for the club as manager, the Peace Cup 2009. The club finished as semi-finalist in the tournament, being eliminated by Juventus in a 2–1 loss. On 29 August, Real Madrid won 3–2 at Deportivo La Coruña in Pellegrini's first La Liga game as manager.
On 27 October 2009 the club was eliminated from the Copa del Rey during the Round of 16 by the modest Segunda División B club Alcorcón with a 4–1 aggregate loss. The Spanish daily Marca named this match "Alcorconazo" and went on to make many teasing references to Pellegrini. On 10 March 2010, Madrid were eliminated from the Champions League by Lyon in the round-of-16 with a 2–1 aggregate loss. Florentino Pérez issued an ultimatum to Pellegrini after this defeat, warning him that he would be fired if he did not win the La Liga title. Pellegrini's Real Madrid side achieved 96 points in La Liga, the highest points total that Real Madrid had ever achieved in a La Liga season up to that point (since surpassed by the 2011-12 team under José Mourinho), but still came in runner-up, finishing behind their arch rival Barcelona, who had 99 points. On 26 May 2010, Real Madrid's directors announced that Pellegrini was being sacked, to be replaced by Mourinho, but that they would have kept him if the opportunity to hire Mourinho had not arisen.
Pellegrini later reflected on his frustration at not being able to build a team at Real Madrid due to the club's controversial Galácticos policy: "I didn't have a voice or a vote at Madrid. They sign the best players, but not the best players needed in a certain position. It's no good having an orchestra with the 10 best guitarists if I don't have a pianist. Real Madrid have the best guitarists, but if I ask them to play the piano they won't be able to do it so well. He [Pérez] sold players that I considered important. We didn't win the Champions League because we didn't have a squad properly structured to be able to win it."
After being released by Real Madrid, on 22 July 2010, Pellegrini received an offer from the Mexico national team; Javier Aguirre resigned following the 2010 World Cup loss in round 16 in South Africa. Pellegrini, however, eventually signed for La Liga side Málaga in a three-year deal, their coach Jesualdo Ferreira having been fired. On 5 November, he was officially presented as the new coach of Málaga during a press conference with the club's owner Abdullah bin Nasser Al Thani, and watched from the stands as they lost 1–0 to Espanyol the following day. On 11 November 2010, he made his Málaga debut as coach against Hércules in a 3-2 victory in the Copa del Rey at La Rosaleda stadium, which led them to the round of 16 after the teams had drawn 0–0 in the first leg at Estadio José Rico Pérez two weeks previously, and continued his winning start as new coach of Malaga by beating Levante 1–0 in his league debut four days later. That season Malaga only managed to finish 11th.
After his first full season with the team, he led them to fourth in the league with a club record-breaking 58 points. With his guidance, Málaga entered the Champions League qualifiers for the first time in the club's history. On 10 August 2012, Pellegrini publicly stated his desire to stay at the club despite its ongoing financial problems and the loss of key players such as Santi Cazorla and José Salomón Rondón.
Málaga progressed to latter stages of the Champions League, where they were drawn against Milan, Zenit Saint Petersburg and Anderlecht. The club progressed to the knockout stage unbeaten, winning three and drawing three in the group stage. Málaga then beat FC Porto 2–1 on aggregate in the round-of-16. They were eliminated by Borussia Dortmund after conceding two stoppage time goals which cost them a semi-final place.
On 22 May 2013, at Málaga's end-of-season award ceremony, Pellegrini announced he would leave the club at the end of the season with Málaga finishing sixth and excluded from Europe due to Financial Fair Play.
On 30 May 2013, Pellegrini stated he had a verbal agreement to become the new manager of Premier League club Manchester City. On 14 June 2013, Manchester City confirmed Pellegrini’s appointment as their new first team manager on a three-year contract. Pellegrini was quoted saying he was "delighted to accept this hugely exciting opportunity." Upon joining Manchester City, Pellegrini became only the fifth coach from outside of Europe to manage in the Premier League, and the first Chilean.
Pellegrini initially made a shaky start with four league losses by the end of November but big wins against Newcastle United, Manchester United and Norwich City showed the team's potential. After their fourth league loss against Sunderland on 10 November 2013, City went on 20 match unbeaten streak (in all competitions) which including a 6–0 win over Tottenham Hostpur, a 3–2 win away at European champions Bayern Munich and a 6–3 win over league leaders Arsenal.
After a hectic Christmas period City's form showed no signs of abating and beat a 9–0 aggregate demolition of West Ham United in the Football League Cup semi-final (a competition record) and another 5–1 humbling against Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane maintained City's average of over three goals a game. Of the 20 matches, only two were draws against Southampton and Blackburn Rovers in the FA Cup - both of which ended 1–1. Some of the opponents openly described City as the best team in the world and talk about an unprecedented quadruple soon arose in the media.
Pellegrini had won the Premier League manager of the month for December 2013 and was roundly praised for his attacking managerial style, calm demeanour and man management. Such was Manchester City's ruthlessness in front of goal from all angles - intricate passing moves, crosses, solo-runs and set pieces - The Daily Telegraph likened City's style to "death by beautiful geometry".
On 18 January 2014, City surpassed 100 goals for the season in all competitions in just 34 games - the quickest century in the Premier League era beating Chelsea's 2012–13 record by eight matches. By the end of January 2014, they had scored 115 goals in all competitions - the most goals scored by any club in Europe. Maintaining such a scoring rate would see them surpass Chelsea's Premier League record of 103 goals in 2009–10, and the 143 scored by Manchester United's "Busby Babes" in the 1957–58 season.
On 2 March 2014, Pellegrini's Manchester City defeated Sunderland 3–1 at Wembley Stadium on the 2014 Football League Cup Final, giving him his first major trophy in European football. On 11 May, Manchester City became Premier League champions after beating West Ham United 2–0 with goals from Nasri and Kompany at the City of Manchester Stadium, making Pellegrini the first coach from outside of Europe to win the English league title.
On 29 October 2014, City were defeated 2–0 by Newcastle United in the League Cup, thus failing to defend their title. On 24 January 2015, Pellegrini's men were knocked out of the FA Cup after a 2–0 loss to Championship side Middlesbrough.
Despite being joint top of the Premier League by New Year's Day, Manchester City suffered a dip in form which saw them claim just 18 points from a possible 36. City were also knocked out of the Champions League last 16 for a third successive campaign following a 3–1 aggregate defeat to Barcelona.
On 7 August 2015, Manchester City announced that Pellegrini had signed a one-year contract extension, which would keep him at the Etihad until June 2017. Pellegrini spoke of this, saying: "I am proud to manage Manchester City FC and am therefore very pleased to have agreed this contract.
On 1 February 2016, Manchester City confirmed Pellegrini was leaving in June 2016 following expiry of contract with Pep Guardiola taking over from the 2016-17 season.
He left Manchester City with the fifth highest win percentage in Premier League history.
Hebei China Fortune
- Universidad Católica
- LDU Quito
- San Lorenzo
- River Plate
- Manchester City
- Miguel Muñoz Trophy (1): 2007–08
- Premier League Manager of the Month (4): December 2013, January 2014, December 2014, August 2015
- Málaga Provincial Council: Gold Shield
- As of match played 15 May 2016.
|Villarreal||1 July 2004||1 June 2009||259||123||72||64||47.5|
|Real Madrid||1 June 2009||26 May 2010||48||36||5||7||75.0|
|Málaga||5 November 2010||14 June 2013||129||53||30||46||41.1|
|Manchester City||14 June 2013||30 June 2016||167||100||28||39||59.9|