Monday 19 August 2013
Manuel Pellegrini faces a big challenge when he takes charge of his first Barclays Premier League match for Manchester City, at home to Newcastle United on Monday night, according to Jamie Carragher.
"It is just having that knowledge of the opposition as well, more than anything"
The former Liverpool defender, who is now a pundit for Sky Sports’ Monday Night Football show, which is covering the match, witnessed the similar arrival of a manager to the Barclays Premier League from La Liga.
Rafael Benitez came from Valencia to take over at Anfield in 2004 and Carragher says the lack of familiarity with the Barclays Premier League meant the Spaniard struggled in the league in his first season at Liverpool, even if they claimed the UEFA Champions League that campaign.
"Benitez did find it difficult, as you could see from our results in his first season," Carragher says. "We won the Champions League but the league results weren't great. It is just having that knowledge of the opposition as well, more than anything.
"Getting to know you own players through pre-season, the players you bring in, how will you know whether they be suited to the Premier League when you have never experienced life as a player or manager there? So you may not have the understanding as to whether the players will settle.
Also, it is the opposition – the other teams' players, their strengths and weaknesses. You can watch a video but you have been up against these players week in, week out for a few years you get to understand them better."
For Pellegrini, who has arrived at City from Malaga, there are factors that will mitigate the disadvantage of his lack of familiarity of his rivals, according to Carragher. Firstly is a set of players at the Etihad Stadium "you could argue are the best squad" in the Premier League, he says.
"A new manager gives players a 10% push to prove something"
Secondly that squad will be looking to impress the new manager, Carragher believes, with players giving more than before to win over the Chilean.
"Everyone is starting at zero again," Carragher says. "The last manager might have favoured certain players over others, but a new manager, when he comes in, it is all fresh and should give players a 10% push to prove something to the new man.
"Normally that is why a lot clubs change managers, more at the bottom or middle of the table, to give the team that boost. You don't expect at the top clubs because they have top players who should be producing top-drawer performances. But I am sure the new manager will give those players a new lease of life."
Pellegrini's judgment in signings is not questioned by Carragher, who believes that the acquisition of the summer is Jesus Navas, the Spain winger, bought by City from Sevilla.
"He is what City have needed, someone to have given them that option of pace down the side for a counter-attack and width to the game," the Liverpudlian says. "He will add something that they do not have at the moment."
While Carragher is fascinated by how Pellegrini will set up his City side at the Etihad Stadium, the prospects of Newcastle also interest him after an impressive 2011/12 campaign under Alan Pardew was followed by a flirt with relegation the next season. Nevertheless, he expects the home side to prevail on Monday night.
"They are two sides with lots of talking points to both of them," he says. "But you have to fancy City. Their first match at home with the players they have. It will be a difficult night for Newcastle."
Live coverage of Manchester City v Newcastle United on 'Monday Night Football' is part of Sky's biggest-ever Premier League season. www.skysports.com/football
For a look at how Sky Sports operates behind the scenes, click here.