Jack Wilshere has compared Manuel Pellegrini to the only other permanent club manager he has had, Arsene Wenger, on Football Focus, as per Football.London.
He said: “He reminds me quite a bit of Arsene. His calmness, the way he wants to play, he wants to play out. He is a nice man and you can talk to him, talk to him about life, and that’s good for me and I can’t wait to get going.”
Of course, being compared to one of the greatest managers of the Premier League era is undoubtedly a compliment – especially coming from Wilshere – but there are lessons to be learned from Wenger’s late-era failings at Arsenal that Pellegrini must be careful to avoid.
The first centres around that calm persona of Pellegrini’s. The Chilean is wily and experienced enough to deal with the demands of managing West Ham – the emotion of the fans, the off-field circus that can ensue, the discord over the new stadium – even-handedly.
However, there is a fine line between calmness and inactivity in the eyes of the modern Premier League fan. To see Pellegrini powerless to prevent a rampant Liverpool side on Sunday was in some ways reminiscent of a hapless Wenger.
Of course, it is very early days and Pellegrini is likely to sidestep this issue, but he needs to be careful that he is still a decisive, influential, passionate presence on the sideline and not a passenger.
Also, Pellegrini’s stubborn insistence on holding his defensive line on the 18-yard line also brings to mind Wenger’s persistence with systems that do not work.
It caused him constant problems at Manchester City, which did not ease as the seasons wore on and Pellegrini must show greater flexibility if he is to succeed.
That also goes for playing out from the back; it is the end goal and Pellegrini has been brought in to improve the style of play, but in the short-term, the Chilean may have to compromise on his passing principles on certain occasions to ensure results and performances are good, while his ideas are being fully understood by his new-look squad.
There is plenty about Wenger that Pellegrini will be keen to copy, but also some lessons from the Frenchman’s failings he should heed.