Manuel Pellegrini aimed what felt like a surprise parting shot at Manchester City on Sunday by saying his life had been made difficult by the club’s decision to announce in February that Pep Guardiola would take over as manager next season.
Pellegrini chose the moment City sealed fourth place in the Premier League with a 1-1 draw at Swansea City in his final game in charge to outline his belief that their form dropped amid a changed atmosphere at the club.
It is a theory that had been widely suggested but during the campaign the dignified Chilean had been keen to play down the idea that the early revelation of the Spaniard’s arrival had derailed his team’s progress.
Now, unless Manchester United beat Bournemouth 19-0 in their rearranged match following Sunday’s abandonment – and even in this barmy Premier season, that really is impossible – Guardiola will take over a Champions League team next season.
Yet Pellegrini, while suggesting his side had been the best in the country in his three years in charge, sounded frustrated that his planned final charge had fallen flat.
“One of the most difficult things to finish this season was after they announced this club will change (manager) next season, was the atmosphere inside the team,” Pellegrini said.
“Of course, it is not easy when you are at that moment involved in all competitions for the players to read every day that ’11 players will go out, these are coming, these are finished’.
“I wanted to finish winning the Premier League. The atmosphere from February when they announced the club was starting a new process next season, maybe it wasn’t the best atmosphere,” Pellegrini added.
“Everyone was accepting what would happen in the future and we lost two very important games at home.”
Even if the best present he could leave City was their Champions League place, Pellegrini had a very different gift for the travelling fans at the Liberty Stadium as he wandered over to them and took off his club blazer.
“I don’t have a shirt because I don’t play, so I gave my jacket to the fans. I felt they have really supported me in three seasons here and support me in every game which is important,” Pellegrini said.
Then, to end his reign, came that rarest of things – a Pellegrini punchline.
“I can confirm my jacket was empty,” he smiled.
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