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Pellegrini reminisces about his time at Villarreal

The new Real Betis manager spoke very well of his former club.

Villarreal manager Manuel Pellegrini wat Photo credit should read PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images

Manuel Pellegrini recently spoke with The Coaches Voice about his career in management. Here we will just delve into what he said about Villarreal, but the whole article is interesting as it ranges from his decision to manage football instead of following a career in engineering to the paths his road has taken in recent years. I’ve always been a big fan of Pellegrini, so it made me very pleased to hear what he had to say about Villarreal:

I came to Villarreal. And, well, I think it was a really good decision because I came to an extraordinary club.

As far as I’m concerned, it’s one of the best clubs in terms of organisation: a chairman who understands the vision clearly and has the capital to make the club grow. And a director of football who, apart from a few exceptions, had great dialogue with players coming into the club.

If I had told the club then that over the next five years we were going to finish as runners-up in the Spanish league, qualify for Europe every year and reach the Champions League semi finals, they would have put me away in the madhouse.

But I asked the players to step up and, gradually, they understood.

Personally, those five years helped me to understand European football really well. Painfully well, at times.

Sometimes, it is hard to realize in the moment that peak times won’t last forever. When you’re battling for Champions League knockout ties, you can very easily be caught assuming that you will always be doing that. To that end, Pellegrini specifically spoke about that night against Arsenal:

Losing to Arsenal in the Champions League semi finals in 2006 hurt a lot.

We had knocked out Inter Milan. Finished first in our group. So the team had a lot of confidence. In terms of our level of football and psychology, we were ready to play a final. Especially a final that was going to be against Barcelona – a team we had beaten 3-1 only six weeks earlier.

We were better than Arsenal in that tie. We should have been on top in London as well as at home. But in the second leg we missed a penalty in the last minute and that was it. Like I said, it hurt a lot.

These things happen in football, though. Like the relegation that started my career, these are the experiences you have to learn from and build on.

Pellegrini hearkens back to Villarreal again when he talks about what he looks for in a club. For him, a sense of belief througout the organization that the team can be competitive seems to be very important:

These days, my first priority when I get an offer to manage a team is to know the people in charge of the club.

To know what ideas they have about football. Where do they want to take the team? Why do they want to contract me?

Once we know that we’re on the same page in terms of developing the project, it’s also very important to understand what authority you’ll have as manager.

Then there’s the potential for development. This isn’t just about technical work. I think perhaps a lot of times, we managers get confused. We think that we make a certain tactical variation and the team wins.

The team wins because it has good players and you get the best performance out of them. Take the Villarreal team for example: maybe nobody else thought it was competitive, but I was convinced after talking to the chairman that we would be a competitive team.

Both club and manager have moved on, but it’s encouraging to me to see former managers speaking well of their time here. Who knows, maybe we can be back to playing under the lights on great European nights again one day.