Fri | Aug 18, 2017

Isn’t football fun?

Published:Thursday | April 14, 2016 | 4:00 AM
Manchester City's coach Manuel Pellegrini (right) and the man who will replace him, Bayern Munich's coach Pep Guardiola.

You can't script this stuff. Manchester City fires Manuel Pellegrini, effective the end of the season, and then his Blues beat Paris Saint-Germain to reach the European Champions League semi-finals for the first time in the club's history.

Pellegrini, a dignified Chilean, must have a sly smile on his face.

In this age of big money, a football manager's contract isn't worth the paper it's written on. A blip in team performance can get wealthy club owners like those of Manchester City nervous enough to pull the plug even if it's due to a rash of injuries.

Pellegrini and the likes of Carlo Ancelotti and Jose Mourinho know this all too well.

The latter two were both let go by Russian Roman Abramovic at Chelsea in the season following wins in the English Premier League. The same thing happened at the same club to Claudia Ranieri, the current Leicester City boss, after a 2004 season in which Chelsea placed second in the Premiership. Truly, he who pays the piper calls the tune.

In those situations, only winning is enough.

In this context, it seems hardly likely that Louis van Gaal will see out his three-year contract at Manchester United. The highly successful Dutchman hasn't endeared himself to United with his possession-oriented departure from that club's traditional winger-based attacking style.

The besieged veteran came to United after carrying The Netherlands to within a penalty shoot-out of the 2014 World Cup final. He might rightly claim that he took United back to Champions League football.

TOO LATE FOR VAN GAAL

His inconsistent United, however, haven't met the benchmark, set by Alex Ferguson. Fans want him out. From the moans of the United faithful, even a return to Champions League football won't save the day for Van Gaal.

He will have to hustle as his team is fifth, four points behind Manchester City.

Six months after his arrival at Liverpool, the charming German Jurgen Klopp is still enjoying a honeymoon at the Anfield home of the five-time European champions. His Reds are currently eighth in the Premiership, two places behind last year's sixth-spot finish.

Yet, the accomplished Klopp is generally viewed as a better coach than the man he replaced, Brendan Rogers. Time will tell.

Managerial musical chairs are present in Jamaica, too. For example, Waterhouse Football Club has had two managers already this year.

If Raineri's Leicester can emerge from last season's battles against relegation to be a real challenger for domestic top honours, then Pellegrini can dream of a triumphant exit.

Even though giants Real Madrid and Bayern Munich all remain in contention, scriptwriters in Manchester are probably penning their view of Champions League success.

If that happens and if Manchester City meet and beat Bayern, who are currently coached by Pep Guardiola Pellegrini's replacement as manager at City that would be irony indeed.

n Hubert Lawrence has attended the Sydney, Athens, Beijing, and London Olympics.