MANUEL Pellegrini spoke of his desire to topple Manchester United as he was formally unveiled as Manchester City manager yesterday.
The Chilean also looked relaxed and unfazed by the huge challenges ahead of him as he met media for the first time since his appointment almost four weeks ago.
The club’s hierarchy have spoken of a desire to win five trophies in the next five seasons and Pellegrini has also been told to improve City’s brand of football. City also hope Pellegrini’s man-management style will be an improvement on that of his predecessor Roberto Mancini, who was sacked just a year after winning the Barclays Premier League title.
None of this appeared to concern Pellegrini at a press conference at the club’s training ground and he made clear regaining the league crown from United is a top priority.
The former Malaga manager said: “I know that the most important thing for all the fans is to beat Manchester United and if I am here it is because I am sure we will do it. This year, same as [the] other year, Manchester City will be top of Manchester United. We will try, at least.”
When asked about the trophy target, the 59-year-old jokingly said: “Just five?” before giving a more considered response.
He said: “We will try to work and do our best here and then we will see how many trophies.
“One of the important [reasons] I am here is the way my other teams always played.
“I think fans of Manchester City will see a different way to how they played in the other years. I am sure we are going to play an attractive game.
“We will always try to play in the opposite side [of the field], try to be an attacking team, do what all the other teams I worked with before did.”
Pellegrini was joined at the press conference by £30 million midfielder Fernandinho, one of two new signings this summer along with winger Jesus Navas.
City continue to be linked with a number of other targets and Pellegrini expects further arrivals, with the priority being a striker following Carlos Tevez’s departure.
He said: “We have two strikers at the moment and we need another one but I am not talking about any names.
“We need a strong squad with two players in each position. We will try to do our best to have the best squad we can.”
Tevez has left for Juventus after an eventful four years at the club during which he was both hero and villain. Pellegrini said: “I spoke with Carlos weeks ago. I feel that Carlos didn’t want to stay here any more. He was very clear telling me.
“It was the best choice for Carlos and the club. That is why Carlos is not here.”
There has also been uncertainty over the futures of midfielder Gareth Barry and defender Joleon Lescott, who are both entering the final year of their contracts.
Pellegrini said: “In the next week we will see on differing situations with different players.
“I will speak with [director of football] Txiki [Begiristain] and with all the players also to see what they want. We will see in the next week what happens.”
Pellegrini has taken both Malaga and Villarreal to the latter stages of the Champions League as well as managing Real Madrid for a single season. His European pedigree was a key factor in his appointment with City eager to improve on their group stage exits in the elite competition in the past two seasons.
Yet Pellegrini made clear he is targeting success on all fronts.
He said: “I think the Premier League is so important, as is the Champions League. I know the last two years of Manchester City was not very good playing Champions League, and we will try to improve next year, but that is not the only reason for this year.
“I will try to take another trophy of the Premier League.
“When Manchester City won the Premier League it was one of the most important things for the club, we will try to repeat that.”
Pellegrini has not lost in four games against United after his Villarreal side came up against them in the group stages of the Champions League in 2005-06 and 2008-09.
Villarreal also beat the Everton side of new United boss David Moyes in qualification for the first of those tournaments.
He said: “I know David Moyes and I played against Manchester United twice in Champions League with Villarreal. In both years we got to the last 16.”
Vidic absent from United Thailand trip
MANCHESTER United skipper Nemanja Vidic is a surprise absentee from the club’s pre-season touring squad.
As anticipated, Robin van Persie and David de Gea both miss Saturday’s opener in Bangkok after being given additional time off following their summer international commitments, although they are due to join up in Sydney.
And, just as David Moyes predicted, injury victims Chris Smalling (foot), Ashley Young (ankle) and Nani (broken nose) were also missing due to injury.
However, Vidic’s non-appearance was not expected and there was no immediate explanation from the club.
There was no hint of any problem on Friday when Vidic attended the official unveiling of David Moyes as Sir Alex Ferguson’s successor. And while his absence may be connected to the treatment received by the Serbian on the chronic knee injury that ruled him out for virtually 12 months, any fresh problem would be a concern.
In addition to Van Persie and De Gea, Shinji Kagawa will also be a late arrival, linking up with his team-mates in Japan on 21 July after a rest following Confederations Cup duty.
If past experience is any guide, Moyes and his players can expect to be greeted by swarms of fans when they arrive at their hotel in Bangkok today.
United’s encounter with Singha All Stars is a sell-out, underlining the love of football, and the Red Devils in particular, in south-east Asia.
With so many senior players missing, Moyes has drafted defender Michael Keane, plus midfielders Jesse Lingard and Adnan Januzaj into his squad.
Also selected is new signing Wilfried Zaha, who only began training on Monday following his European Under-21 campaign with England.
“He has only been with us for two days but I will take him away, see how he goes and have a look,” said Moyes of Zaha.
Wayne Rooney will also be in the party, although there have been no fresh developments on the player’s future.