Manuel Pellegrini had been, for three seasons (2013-2016), the boss of Manchester City. He won the Premier League title in 2014 and the League Cup two times (2014, 2016). He led the Citizens to the 2016 Champions Leagues semifinals, which is the best result in the history of the club in the competition.
During his period at Manchester, he had been named the Premier League Manager of the Month four times(December 2013, January 2014, December 2014, August 2015).
The 63-year-old football coach has managed five other great teams in the last 15 years - Real Madrid (2009-2010), Villarreal (2004-2009), River Plate (2002-2003), San Lorenzo (2001-2002) and Malaga (2010-2013). After his departure from England following the end of his term, he signed for Hebei China Fortune, a club competing in the Chinese Super League.
In an interview with Sportskeeda, Manuel Pellegrini spoke about Manchester City, Pep Guardiola, China, India, the possibility of coaching the Chilean national team and a lot more.
Here are excerpts from his exclusive interview with Sportskeeda:
After your career in South America and Europe you decided to change continents and go to China to Hebei China Fortune. How did you reach that decision?
The possibility of developing a complete club that was born only four years ago interested me, and also the fact that the club wants to grow in all areas. It was a great pride for me that they looked for me in Chile in order to appoint me particularly for my philosophy in football.
The project they presented me drew my interest. Throughout my career, my decisions were based on the projects that the clubs offered me. It is fundamental to me to be able to achieve certain targets.
What are your first impressions in China and your goals with Hebei China Fortune in the Chinese Super League?
The idea is to develop total and attractive football, where the production of new players will be the central pillar of the plan.
India are also an Asian country that wants to grow their football. Have they ever approached you? Would you consider accepting such a proposal?
I have not received any proposal from Indian football. If an attractive project is presented to me in the future, I will consider it.
You were successful in Manchester City the last three years you were there. You won the Premier League title and the League Cup twice. You had built a team that played excellent football. Are you content with that or is there a regret inside you that you didn't win the other titles (Champions League, FA Cup or Community Shield) or perhaps the Premier League more than once?
I don't regret anything. Before I signed for the club they had never progressed from the Champions League group phase. Since we arrived, it has become the most-scoring club in all three competitions and we had always been competing for all the titles. We had three years of successful campaigns, where the club had been growing year after year.
Do you feel that it was the right time for you to leave Manchester City or would you want to stay longer to achieve more?
You always like to achieve higher goals, but my contract was for three years and I think we had three very good seasons, positioning the club among the top four teams in Europe.
You spent three years in Manchester City. Was it your decision to leave? Was the final year hard for you?
As I said before, my contract was from the beginning for three years. To have such a long period in a team like Manchester City is a great achievement. The year overall was not hard for me, but losing the semifinals of Champions league when we were the best team in the preliminary stages was hard.
What do you think that Manchester City can do now with Pep Guardiola as their manager?
As I said some time ago, Guardiola was destined to come to Manchester City. I think he will do very well, as he will be able to continue the growth of the club in England and international level.
You have coached in both Premier League and La Liga, which are considered to be the best football championships in the world. From your experience in both, could you distinguish between the two and make a conclusion as to which is the best and why?
The best football in the world is played in Spain, but the best league is the Premier League, by far. Clubs are stronger, the level is more even, the games are played with high intensity. There is a better atmosphere, with full stadiums.
In terms of football, the best is Spanish, and you just have to see who wins the European tournaments. In Spain, there are the best players and the best teams in the world. Messi and Cristiano, and then Iniesta, Suárez, Neymar, Busquets, Ramos.
With most of your teams, you have won a lot of titles. Which trophy did you enjoy the most and why?
More than the titles, I prefer the journey. I think I have had very good processes in all the teams that I have trained, so I am proud of everything that I have achieved in a 16-year career outside of Chile.
Who is the best player you have ever coached (in terms of skills and ability) and your favourite (in terms of discipline)?
I have coached several quality players like Cristiano, Pires, Raul, Lampard, Aguero. All have been great professionals - both in sports and personally.
You come from Chile. Chile has managed to win the Copa America consecutively for 2 years and steal the show from the traditionally main competitors, Argentina and Brazil. Is it your dream to coach the national team of Chile one day?
For every coach, it is a dream to work for the national team of his country but for many years I have been working with the players every week. The work with the players in coaching a national team is only a few times a year; It is a more administrative work than on the field in my opinion, and I like the field. So, I do not feel ready for selection. I would not enjoy that work.