You’d be forgiven for reading the title of this piece and thinking, ‘wait, there were five positive moments in the Pellegrini era?’ Who could blame you after seeing some of the lacklustre performances in the last couple of years? Nobody. Despite that, there was the occasional bit of respite, and Manuel Pellegrini’s time at City was not entirely marred with incompetent performances, bizarre substitutions and even worse transfer activity. With three trophies and a fair few memorable performances here and there, there are indeed times worth reminiscing about. So, what makes the list of five? Here’s my take on the top five moments, matches and periods during the Chilean’s time in charge.
In at Number Five: Kevin Makes History
This particular moment is the latest chronologically of my top five, and only happened a couple of months ago. City had travelled to Paris in the first leg of this heavyweight European tie and gained a very credible 2-2 draw in the Parc des Princes. The tie was in the balance, but many pundits were still predicting a domestically dominant PSG side to progress. The game was cagey, Zlatan Ibrahimovic never managed to wriggle free from Eliaquim Mangala’s back pocket, and resultantly PSG never really got going. On the other hand, a Sergio Aguero first-half penalty miss did nothing for the nerves of the 50,000+ City fans in attendance. The match was drawing to a nail-biting finish. City were in the box seat, but knew that a goal from PSG would act as a potential curtain closer. And then, in the 76th minute up stepped arguably City’s player of the year: Kevin De Bruyne. His near-perfect effort flew into the bottom corner of the goal and the Etihad exploded. It sent City from their first Champions League quarter-final straight into their first Champions League semi-final. It was the kind of the moment that many Blues will have dreamt of when watching harsher times several years ago. A fine European moment.
Kevin De Bruyne vs PSG
A historic goal that sent City to their first Champions League Semi-Finals… pic.twitter.com/v6HhfSY6Nf
— Best MCFC Goals (@BestMCFCGoals) April 13, 2016
With His Hands on Number Four: Willy’s Shootout
Not quite a moment, but a series of them. Pellegrini’s decision to start Willy Cabellero in the 2016 League Cup Final was met with much controversy and some might say protest – though more from a social media standpoint. Joe Hart was obviously the stronger goalkeeper, but Manuel refused to go back on his word after starting Willy in every other round of the cup. The game was tense at times, however for most of the second half it looked as though City were going to squeak over the line after Fernandinho opened the scoring. Unfortunately, Philippe Coutinho levelled the match shortly before full-time to force an extra half hour, and in the end – penalties. Caballero had his moments in the game itself, but with penalties looming, there will have been plenty of Blues nervous about the final outcome. Those nerves weren’t settled after Fernandinho missed City’s first penalty and Liverpool converted. Willy was to have his day. Three penalty saves in succession saw City run out winners and secure the second League Cup of Pellegrini’s reign. But in particular, it was the heroics of the Argentinian goalkeeper that captured the feeling of the day. Much maligned before kick off, his contributions during that particular match will not be forgotten in a hurry.