At that stage, they were billed to face an equally unfancied team in the German-based club, Borussia Dortmund led by the tactical master Jugen Klop. Malaga played well over the two legs but was evicted out of the competition in a controversial manner. The Malaga team was headed by the young Isco who letter became a toast in the Spanish league making both Madrid and Barcelona jostle for his signature.
This feat made man city fans and pundits in England thought Pelegrini might be good enough for the Etihad job. The man continued where Mancinini had left and he brought beauty to a game at Etihad.
Pelegrini played two seasons in England without lifting the premier league although he won the English FA cup and other titles like the Carlin Cup and the community shield. During his time, Chelsea and Leicester City won the league titles. The man would be remembered by many football-loving Nigerians for picking up Kelechi Iheanacho ant converting him into a good player.
Nacho, as he is fondly called in Nigeria, had just led the Golden Eaglets of Nigeria to win the under 17 FIFA world cup tournament in Asia. He was voted the most valuable player of the tournament so that big teams scrambled for his signature before Man City finally landed the promising Nigerian starlet given their financial might. Nacho was drafted into the junior team of man city where he continued his progress. Pelegrini finally gave the young player the chance to impress and the starlet seized the opportunity to announce his arrival in the English premier league where he scored vital goals and made important assist during his early performances for the club.
This quickly made him become fans favourite as the club supporters boasted of having the best young and promising player in England. I remember a point in time when supporters of both Manchester United and City clashed on social media over who was the better player between Iheanacho and Martial. Man Utd had bought the French player from AS Monaco in a deal worth £50 million. The exorbitant transfer fee made the debate between the duo became intense as fans of the blue boasted they didn’t have to part with so much money to have Nacho who they believed was a better player than Martial. On the other hand, Utd fans rebuffed the gesture saying Martial had already proved himself in the French league at such a young age. They said Iheanacho was only riding on the luck of having world-class players around him.
Now that’s enough for the social media exchange between both supporters. Let’s talk about how Manuel Pelegrini managed nacho. In the just-concluded under 17 tournaments, Nacho played as an attacking midfielder where he controlled procession and possession in the middle of the park. He dictated play from the middle, but aside his technical ability as a midfielder, the attacker was also a deadly scorer, the man won the golden boot at the tournament after scoring four goals and providing assistance to teammates.
This made Pelegrini convert the Nigerian to a striker at Man City, at first it went well with attacker scoring goals even after playing most of his early appearances as a substitute. He outshone fellow African striker Wilfred Bony who paired Kun Aguero for most of the season. But was the conversion of Nacho to an out and out striker a good move for the player? I hardly think so. Iheanacho brings more than goal-scoring to the game, the attacker has an incredible vision, he could easily pick out players running into space and his control of the ball in the middle of the park is second to non, these were the qualities the young Nigerian was made to abandon as he sought to hone only his goal-scoring ability. The moving letter backed fire for the Nigerian when Pelegrini was sacked by the city board and Pep Guardiola was made to take charge of the building process after announcing he was leaving the German club Bayern Munich. Pep came him and saw Nacho to be surplus to requirement pointing his lack pace and natural striking instinct as the reason. He considered Nacho a good player but he thought that city would need players of quality more than what Nacho brings to the table if they are going to compete with other top club in the premier league.
That was how a young Brazilian in the person of Gabriel Jesus. The Brazilian had made name for himself in Brazil so that everyone thought an adventure in Europe was around the corner and that was exactly what happened. City snapped up the young player to understudy their Iconic club figure, Sergio Aguero and G. Jesus did exactly that. The man partnered with the Argentine in a number of games to form a deadly attacking duo and indeed the sale of Iheanacho was justified by what Gabriel brought to the table. Nacho was loaned out to Leicester to give room for the Brazilian but after a few outing, the Nigerian realized it might as well spell his end at the Etihad stadium. Gabriel Jesus immediately announced himself in the English top-flight with strings of match-winning performances. His pace, skills and a great sense of positioning made him a darling to supporters of the blues.
He scored a few goals in his early outing to become a favourite in Manchester but sooner than the letter he was made to sit on the bench to play as a cover for Kun after Guardiola tweaked his formation to his preferred 4-3-3 formation.