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Pellegrini wins first trophy

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Reuters

It has been a long time arriving but Manuel Pellegrini can finally celebrate some meaningful European silverware - 10 years after arriving in Spain as a relative unknown. Photo by: Suzanne Plunkett/AP

London - It has been a long time arriving but Manuel Pellegrini can finally celebrate some meaningful European silverware - 10 years after arriving in Spain as a relative unknown.

The Chilean coach, who earned plaudits for his work at unfashionable Villarreal and Malaga, either side of a brief stint at Real Madrid, steered Manchester City to a 3-1 League Cup final triumph over Sunderland on Sunday.

His breakthrough moment did not come easily - City were woeful in the first half before goals by Yaya Toure, Samir Nasri and Jesus Navas gave them a flattering win - but it could mark a pivotal moment in the career of the 60-year-old.

City have a realistic chance of a unprecedented domestic treble and, with one trophy in the bag, Pellegrini is clearly not about to rest on his laurels.

“We will evaluate the season in May - we won today one trophy, I don't think that anybody can be allowed to think that's enough at a club like this,” he told reporters.

In his first season in charge at City, for whom trophies are expected rather than hoped for, he also has an FA Cup quarter-final next week against second tier Wigan Athletic and is in a four-way fight for the Premier League title.

No side has ever won all three English domestic trophies in the same season and while the League Cup is small fry for the big fish, one only has to look at the effect it had on Jose Mourinho in his first spell as Chelsea coach.

In 2005 Chelsea beat Liverpool 3-2 in the competition and it paved the way for the Portuguese to lead the London club to consecutive Premier League titles.

Pellegrini said that he had put himself under no pressure to win his first major European prize, pointing out that for most of his time on the continent he was battling long odds - just like Sunderland were doing on Sunday.

He took Villarreal to the Champions League semi-finals and last year Malaga reached the last eight on his watch.

“I never though that I needed a trophy,” Pellegrini, who won Clausura championships with River Plate and San Lorenzo in Argentina before heading across the Atlantic, said.

“I've been here in Europe for 10 years but if you are trying to win trophies in clubs where it's impossible to do it then it's frustrating.

“I was pretty happy with my first years in Villarreal and Malaga. At Villarreal I did win a trophy in a way because I got them to the Champions League.

“Before Man City the only other chance was Real Madrid and I had only one year there and got them the most points in their history at that time.

“I was absolutely sure that Man City would win titles and today we got the first one. Today is just one trophy but I can't think that's enough.”

City's next task will be to beat second tier Wigan Athletic in next week's FA Cup quarter-final - the side they lost to in last season's final.

“We have a lot of respect for Wigan,” he said.

“We know what they did to us last year, it will not be an easy game for sure.”

Pellegrini had to earn his money against Sunderland after his side struggled to recover from conceding an early goal.

Crucially his side did not panic and while they were never at their free-flowing best, they ran out deserved winners.

With the prospect of more to come, striker Sergio Aguero spoke of the impact Pellegrini had following last season's disappointments.

“We've adapted quite well to what (Pellegrini) wanted,” the Argentine striker said.

“Manuel speaks to us all, he treats us as equals, that's also important, and he has a good turn of phrase to motivate us.” – Reuters


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