Manuel Pellegrini

Chilean manager Manuel Pellegrini has emerged as the favourite to be the next permanent manager of West Ham United in the last couple of days, following the expiry of David Moyes’ contract last week.

Today, we profile the experienced boss, looking back at his entire playing and managerial career thus far, seeing what he would bring to the table at the London Stadium and following his story from humble beginnings in South America to Premier League glory.

Manuel Luis Pellegrini Ripamonti was born in Chile’s capital Santiago in September 1953 and didn’t grow up necessarily dreaming of becoming a professional football, in a country far from the footballing success it’s enjoying these days.

Instead, Pellegrini wanted to become a civil engineer, passing a degree in 1979 and earning him the nickname “The Engineer” in later life, however, by this stage he had already been drafted into the world of football, his talent too much to be kept away from the beautiful game.

As a player, Pellegrini was well-respected, reputable and liked for being one of a rare few one-club men and that club was Club Universidad de Chile of the Chilean Primera Division or Chilean Top-Flight.

A centre-back, should he take up the Hammers job, he will be the fourth in succession in East London, he appeared close to 500 times for the U, sadly, never picking up any honours, although he did become a Chile International during his 13 years, capped 28 times.

After he retired from the game at 33 and immediately looked to go into management, the Blues would also give him his first gig in 1988, although it only lasted a rather unsuccessful year.

Shortly after Pellegrini’s departure, the club were relegated, but the young boss was already looking elsewhere, taking up a role helping with the Chile national team, as U20 boss and assistant to Arturo Salah.

But, this wouldn’t last long and Pellegrini’s first few years as a gaffer were frustrating, with it taking him until 1993 to taste any real success in terms of trophies.

Having managed Palestino and O’Higgins, his first title came at Universidad Catolica in the form of the Copa Interamericana in 1993, which was soon followed by the 1995 Copa Chile, the country’s domestic cup competition.

His time with Catolica came to an end in 1995, despite the relative success, and he found his next role hard to come by, going back to Palestino for a short while, but not landing another job of note until 1999.

At which point, his big break came around the corner, his first footballing adventure outside of his homeland, taking him to neighbouring Ecuador with LDU Quito.

Here, Pellegrini won his first league title, the 1999 edition of Ecuador’s Serie A, which attracted him even more attention from foreign lands, namely Argentina.

One of the nation’s biggest teams in San Lorenzo of the capital Buenos Aires successfully landed his signature, and he, in turn, led them to domestic, the 2000/2001 Primera Division, and continental, the 2001 Copa Mercosur, glory.

After a couple of years, Pellegrini sought a new challenge in Argentina, moving to San Lorenzo’s rivals Rover Plate, to whom he would bring a similar level of achievement.

Though much like his previous spell at Lorenzo, he struggled to follow up the success of leading them to the 2002/2003 Primera Division and was soon out the door, this time, seeking an entirely fresh venture.

Through a series of coaching session nearly 20 years earlier, Pellegrini had experience of working in Europe and was open to the option of a job there, La Liga outfit Villarreal taking a punt on him.

This gamble paid off big time for the Yellow Submarine as they had captured a boss who would lead them to a European trophy in his first month in charge, the 2004 UEFA Intertoto Cup, getting the better of Atletico Madrid.

Pellegrini managed five years and 259 games at the Estadio de la Ceramica, but this wouldn’t nearly tell the full story, with the gaffer leading them to dizzy new heights.

Villareal finished third in 2004/2005 and three years later, finished second, breaking up the ritual of Barcelona and Real Madrid being Spain’s top two clubs.

This success was mirrored in the UEFA Champions League as they made it to the semi-finals in 2006, to be knocked out over two legs by Arsenal and again beaten by the Gunners in 2009 in the last eight.

The following summer, in the wake of a ground-breaking spell in yellow, Pellegrini had his head turned by Real Madrid, unable to turn down the opportunity of managing the European powerhouses.

But, it turned out to be far from a fairy-tale for the Chilean, who would only last a season at the Bernabeu, and “harshly” dismissed by the club’s owners in the summer of 2010.

Despite picking up the most points Madrid had ever achieved in La Liga, somehow, they finished second to Barcelona, they bowed out of Europe and domestic cups early, and this contributed to the decision.

Pellegrini was back in work in no time, however, taking up the reins at Malaga, in his just under three seasons with the team, he was able to guide them into Europe for the first time.

He achieved this with a fourth-place finish in La Liga and reached the knockout rounds of the Champions League, they were minutes away from the semis before losing to Borussia Dortmund, conceding two late goals in a quarter-final second leg.

The boss’ reputation of taking mid-table teams and lifting them into the upper echelons of not just their country, but also Europe, is something that will appeal greatly to West Ham fans.

Upon departure from a cash-strapped Malaga in 2013, the Chile man ventured into the world of English football for the first time, replacing Roberto Mancini at Manchester City.

In Manchester, Pellegrini was a revelation as he hit it off with the English fans from day one and in his first campaign, delivered the team a second PL title in the space of three years.

In doing so, Pellegrini became the first non-European manager to win the English Top-Flight, defeating, ironically, the Hammers on the final day to steal in front of Liverpool and finish first.

Along the way, they had picked up the League Cup also, thrashing the Irons 9-0 on aggregate in the semi-final, the Chilean certainly does love a game against the East Londoners.

But, it wasn’t just his results that saw him looked upon so fondly by the English supporters and press, it was his fluid, attacking style of football too, City broke the record for the most goals scored in a season for a club in England, with 153 in 2013/2014.

However, Pellegrini struggled over the next two seasons in the run-up to his departure in 2016, the furthest he could get the Citizens in the Champions League was the final four in his final term.

However, he did leave the Etihad in a blaze of glory, securing Champions League football for the next manager Pep Guardiola and lifting the 2015/2016 edition of the League Cup.

Statistically, Pellegrini left England as one of the best gaffers in the history of the PL, his next managerial post would be a slightly unusual one, in the faraway land of China.

In August 2016, he was appointed boss of Chinese Super League outfit Hebei China Fortune, as another one of an influx of players and managers heading to the league.

However, it was announced on Friday afternoon, just a couple of months after starting his third season with the club, Pellegrini had left Hebei, terminating his contract.

Over the weekend, the 64-year-old is understood to have flown to London for talks with West Ham Joint-Chairman David Sullivan regarding the now-vacant manager’s position.

As we understand, if all goes well with the discussions scheduled for later today, Pellegrini will sign a contract and the news will be made public in the next few days, it is clear to see that if the odds-on favourite does end up at London Stadium, the Hammers will be getting one hell of a manager.