By Sonia Oxley
MANCHESTER, England (Reuters) – Manchester City’s new manager Manuel Pellegrini promised a more attacking brand of soccer and pointed to his experience of outfoxing local rivals Manchester United as he pledged on Wednesday to win trophies.
At his first news conference since taking over from Italian Roberto Mancini, Pellegrini said he aimed to improve City’s poor Champions League record but reclaiming the Premier League title they won in 2012 or FA Cup they lifted in 2011 was as important.
Expectations are high at trophy-hungry City, where runners-up places in the Premier League and FA Cup were deemed to be unacceptable last season, and chief executive Ferran Soriano has said the target is five trophies in the next five years.
“Just five?” joked Pellegrini. “We’ll try to work and we’ll do our best here and see how many trophies we can win.”
City finished 11 points behind champions United last season, also suffering a second successive Champions League group-stage exit, with Pellegrini confident he can improve matters.
“I know the most important thing… is for Manchester City to beat Manchester United. If I’m here it’s because I’m sure we will do it,” said the 59-year-old Chilean, who joined the club last month on a three-year deal after the sacking of Mancini.
“I have played against Manchester United twice in the Champions League with Villarreal, in both years… we passed to the last 16 and Manchester United didn’t (in one of them), so I have experience playing against Manchester United.”
The former Real Madrid and Malaga boss led Villarreal to four 0-0 draws against United in the group stages of Europe’s elite club competition in 2005/06 and 2008/09 with his side going on to the semi-finals and last eight respectively.
He also took competition debutants Malaga to the Champions League quarter-finals last season and, while Pellegrini said he did not value one competition higher than the other, he was clear City would improve their performances in Europe next term.
“We don’t have priority for one competition or the other,” he said. “I know we have to improve in the future what Manchester City have done in the last years in the Champions League but also, for me, it’s as important, the same as (the Premier League) championship or FA Cup.”
Pellegrini, known as ‘The Engineer’, has a reputation for building teams who play attractive, possession-based football and is hoping to instil this philosophy in his new team.
“Fans of Manchester City will see a different way how they play (compared to) other years,” he said.
“I’m sure we are going to play an attractive game. We will always try to play in the opposite side (of the pitch), trying to be an attacking team.”
Pellegrini has bolstered his squad with Brazil midfielder Fernandinho and Spain winger Jesus Navas but also wants a replacement for Argentina striker Carlos Tevez who wanted to leave the club and has joined Juventus.
“We have two strikers at the moment and we need another one but I’m not talking about any different names,” said Pellegrini, whose transfer window shopping is made easier by being at the world’s richest club.
“We need a very good squad, a strong squad with two players in each position.”
He has arrived in England at a time of huge change at the leading clubs, with David Moyes taking over from the retired Alex Ferguson at Manchester United and Jose Mourinho having signed up for a second stint at Chelsea.
The changes do not make his job any easier, Pellegrini said.
“It will be the same. I’m sure David Moyes will do very well, Jose Mourinho knows everything about the Premier League,” he said. “It will be as every year a very competitive Premier League, with five or six teams who will try to win.”