Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini under pressure

Manuel Pellegrini has the final 12 matches of Manchester City’s season to save his job, with the manager needing to defend the Premier League title or win the Champions League, otherwise Pep Guardiola will be approached as his replacement.

If City fail to claim either the title or the European Cup and Pellegrini’s second campaign ends without a trophy then his future would be precarious, and the 61-year-old could be sacked following an end of season appraisal.

Pellegrini is a popular figure at City, from executive level to first-team squad, and so the hierarchy would be reluctant to remove him. However, given City’s unconvincing display in the Champions League and a Premier League campaign in which they will be eight points behind Chelsea if the leaders win their game in hand, a prevailing view is that Pellegrini has failed to improve the team.

When Ferran Soriano sacked Roberto Mancini after he oversaw a dismal championship defence in the 2012-13 season the chief executive stated the fundamental reason was because there was minimal evidence of the side evolving under the Italian.

City trail Barcelona 2-1 in the Champions League last 16. In the first leg Pellegrini’s tactical limitations were shown up for a second successive year against the Catalan club. His insistence on always playing in an attacking mode meant he fielded a 4-4-2 formation that had Segio Ag├╝ero and Edin Dzeko as the strikers so City were overrun. Although they rallied in the second half the poor performance followed an unconvincing group stage before Christmas, Pellegrini’s side only just qualifying.

In Sunday’s 2-1 defeat at Liverpool Pellegrini persevered with the two-striker system and saw City beaten by Brendan Rodgers’s side. With City needing to win to exert pressure on Chelsea – who were playing Tottenham Hotspur in the Capital One Cup final later in the day – the game at Anfield was poised at 1-1 after 75 minutes yet Pellegrini readied the defensive midfielder Fernando to come on. Only when Philippe Coutinho scored did the Chilean change his mind and ask the attack-minded Frank Lampard to enter and chase the match.

When replacing Mancini in the summer of 2013 Pellegrini signed a three-year deal and despite winning the title and Capital One Cup last season, fresh terms have yet to be offered. At the end of this season he will have 12 months left but there is no mood to open talks regarding an extension.

Credit: Jamie Jackson/Guardian Sport