Manuel Pellegrini continues to be linked to the Real Madrid job, and continues to refuse to comment on it until after the season. And, for that matter, apparently met with Ruben Cousillas, Jose Manuel Llaneza, and Fernando Roig Negueroles to plan for the 2009-2010 season.
While early on, I felt sure he would be staying one more year, now I am becoming less certain. For one, it would be a difficult job to turn down, even with all of the circus that surrounds the team, and the pressure that would come with the position. Plus, these rumors do not seem to be going anywhere -at some point it makes it seem more and more likely that there is some substance to it.
That being said, there have been a couple of coaches linked to the position. The other day I saw a rumor suggesting the end result would be a switch of managers - i.e., Pellegrini heading west, and Juande Ramos heading to the coast. Today, Mallorca's current manager, Gregorio Manzano denied having heard anything from Villarreal about taking over next year.
Manzano's record with Mallorca: 13th (2005-2006), 12th (2006-2007), 7th (2007-2008), 9th (2008-2009) (after a stint at the bottom of the table earlier in the year). Prior to his current job with Mallorca, he was with Valladolid (1999-2000, 8th in Primera), Racing (2000-2001, 19th, relegated from Primera), Rayo Vallecano (2001-2002, 11th in Primera), Mallorca (2002-2003, 9th in Primera, Copa del Rey champions), Atletico (2003-2004, 7th in Primera), and Malaga (2004-2005, 10th in Primera).
Manzano's record seems consistent, but nothing too impressive. If these rumors are true, in my opinion, that is not the direction the club needs to go. Go big (Juande Ramos would fit that category), or go small (someone like Pellegrini before he came to Villarreal) - but don't go middle of the road.
So, final thoughts? Will Pellegrini seek the exit door? If so, who will be stepping into his place? Has Villarreal reached a point where they can seek out someone with a strong history? Or do we need to look at bringing someone up from South America with promise?
Preview coming tonight....