Pellegrini offers decent option should Mourinho snub Chelsea

Posted by Phil Lythell

Not for the first time this season, the UK newspapers are awash with speculation over who the next permanent manager of Chelsea is going to be. Only this time it does not concern a certain Portuguese gentleman but a Chilean in the shape of Manuel Pellegrini.

Reports suggest that feelers have been put out by the Chelsea hierarchy to see how keen the current Malaga boss would be to move to West London. Should both parties decide that it is in their best interests to work together then Chelsea could be in the rare position of having made a sensible and considered choice regarding the most important position at the club.

- Chelsea 'in talks over Pellegrini'

No doubt some fans would be underwhelmed by Pellegrini's appointment - mainly due to the fact that he is not Jose Mourinho - and there are a few black marks against his name. The 59-year-old has managed in Europe for nine years but has failed to win a single piece of silverware in that time, unless you count the Intertoto Cup with Villarreal in 1994, which no right-minded football observer ever would (even Fulham have won that trophy, after all).

His lack of experience in winning a league title or even a domestic cup in this continent will surely raise eyebrows among those seeking to question his potential appointment, though he does have several redeeming features. Pellegrini has shown an affinity with the Champions League by working miracles with both Villarreal and Malaga in their debut campaigns, taking the former to within a penalty kick of the 2006 final and the latter to within a minute of this season's semi-finals.

Sure, he couldn't get Real Madrid past the round of 16 in his only season in charge at the Santiago Bernabeu, though when you consider that the Spanish giants didn't make it to the quarter-finals of the Champions League in any season between 2004/5 until Mourinho took over in 2010/11, it suggests it was the club rather than the manager that was the problem.

Looking at his credentials for supervising a big club, Pellegrini was the man in charge when Real Madrid made two world record signings in one summer when they brought in Kaka and then Cristiano Ronaldo. He clearly therefore has the experience of dealing with superstar players with egos to match and the fact that he had the surly and mercurial Juan Roman Riquelme playing to such an exceptionally high standard at Villarreal also points to a man capable of moulding the potentially obdurate into key members of the collective.

His time working under the constantly demanding Florentino Perez will also have been a good apprenticeship should he ultimately end up reporting to Roman Abramovich .

Also in his favour is that one large obstacle to his effectiveness in the Premier League - his possible inability to communicate - has been removed. Having never worked in this country it was assumed that he did not speak English, though it has emerged from reputable sources that he does indeed speak the lingua franca of football's motherland. Whether instantly conversing in the native tongue is absolutely vital is open to question seeing as Carlo Ancelotti arrived with just a smattering of English and won the double in his first season. However, any lingering doubts can now be assuaged.

But before Pellegrini is anointed as the Second Coming, it should be emphasised that this is all just paper talk at present. Mourinho is still very much in the frame and would be virtually every supporter's first choice to replace Rafael Benitez. Though in the event that the Special One chooses to seek employment at somewhere other than Stamford Bridge, Pellegrini represents a decent option to fill the breach.

Follow Phil Lythell on Twitter @PhilLythell

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