Manchester City Hierarchy Facing Hard Questions

Published: 20th March 2015 11:34 AM  |   Last Updated: 20th March 2015 11:34 AM   |  A+A-


MANCHESTER: Manchester City chief executive Ferran Soriano and director of football Txiki Begiristain will be forced to defend their contribution to the club's latest Champions League failure alongside Manuel Pellegrini in a post-season review conducted by the Premier League champions' Abu Dhabi hierarchy.

In what promises to be a turbulent summer at the Etihad Stadium, uncertainty also surrounds the future of Patrick Vieira, the coach of the club's elite development squad, with City still to open talks over extending the Frenchman's contract, which expires at the end of the season.

With City exiting the Champions League at the last-16 stage for the second successive season, losing to a Lionel Messi-inspired Barcelona on both occasions, manager Pellegrini has fallen short of delivering the 'progress' demanded by chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak last summer.

But while Pellegrini will face a battle to convince the City owners that he remains the right man to take the club forward, Soriano and Begiristain will also come under intense scrutiny as a result of the off-field failings that have led to Pellegrini citing the "important restrictions" which compromised his ability to build on last season's success in winning the Premier League and Capital One Cup.

The spending restriction and Champions League squad reduction - from 25 players to 21 - imposed on the club by UEFA for failing to comply with Financial Fair Play regulations last year was a direct consequence of Soriano's failure to guide City to FFP compliance. But with the club still spending vast amounts on new players, including Eliaquim Mangala, Fernando and Wilfried Bony, since being sanctioned by the European body, Begiristain's unimpressive recruitment record has also placed a question mark over his role at City.

Begiristain, appointed by Soriano in October 2012 after the two worked closely together at Barcelona, also recommended Pellegrini's appointment as successor to Roberto Mancini in 2013.

Although Begiristain's close relationship with Pep Guardiola is regarded as a significant advantage in the club's long-term aim to recruit the Bayern Munich coach, the likely availability of Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti this summer - a man with powerful support among City's Abu Dhabi leadership - could lead to a change of direction which would clash with Soriano and Begiristain's desire to impose a Barcelona-style blueprint at the Etihad Stadium.

Vieira is also understood to be a possible contender, but the former Arsenal midfielder may be forced to pursue his managerial ambitions elsewhere if Ancelotti is dismissed by Real.

Soriano is understood to be unconvinced by Ancelotti's football philosophy, but the Spaniard's position has been weakened by the FFP penalty, which proved damaging to Abu Dhabi's determination to project the image of the Emirate as a world-leading centre for business.

In Soriano's favour is the commercial growth of the club since his arrival in the summer of 2012, with City posting revenues in excess of 345 million pounds in the last financial year.

But while there will be an intense focus on Soriano and Begiristain, alongside Pellegrini, the club are also facing a summer of churn in the transfer market, with several players likely to leave the Etihad.

Frank Lampard will head to New York City at the end of the season and, with James Milner expected to leave on a free transfer, the potential loss of Yaya Toure will leave the team without three experienced midfielders. Samir Nasri, Edin Dzeko, Aleksandar Kolarov, Dedryck Boyata and Stevan Jovetic are also likely to be made available in an attempt to reduce the average age of the squad.

Juventus midfielder Paul Pogba, Wolfsburg's Kevin De Bruyne and Everton's Ross Barkley are all targets, with Southampton forward Jay Rodriguez another potential recruit if he proves his fitness sufficiently following a cruciate ligament injury.


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