Pellegrini has shown Mourinho something in these last four months, he has a far greater trust in youth. Sterling, De Bruyne and Delph all sub-24 yrs old have been trusted to deliver. Arguably Southampton are one of the better drilled, more obdurate teams to beat with 3 clean sheets from ten games, and yet Pellegrini trusted the triumvirate of Sterling, De Bruyne and Delph to engineer a win. Southampton were unbeaten away from home so it was brave not to rush the enigmatic David Silva in from the start.
Pellegrini is a qualified civil engineer, and you can see how he attempts to engineer his teams and evolve them over time. He jettisoned Dzeko and Negredo for the more youthful Sterling and De Bruyne, a £107m investment in energy, speed, guile and impact. A conscious decision of swapping out and out strikers for creative players that score goals.
Southampton were undone by the speed and movement of Sterling and Delph, conjuring up the first goal for De Bruyne on 9 minutes. Delph and Kolarov picked up the 2nd and 3rd goals with De Bruyne assisting 2 ,and Sterling with 1 assist.
It’s hard to see past Sterling and De Bruyne as the most canny close season buys with 14 goals and 15 assists between them. Undeniably it helps when you can shell out £107m on some of the promising players in European football alongside Juventus’s Paul Pogba.
Southampton improved with the introduction of Dusan Tadic for Romeu on 46 minutes and he provided the ball that fed Mane who provided the cross for Shane Longs 49th minute goal to make it 2-1.
Koeman in his post match interview said they started sloppily conceding in 9 minutes. Saints were 2-0 down in 20 minutes to a second by Delph. Briefly at 2-1 in the 49th minute the Saints were energised before Kolarov slotted home a sweeping move to make it 3-1.
Aguero was subbed off injured on 64 minutes and there was palpable relief from the Etihad crowd with Kolarov’s sweet strike on 69 minutes to make it 3-1.
Pellegrini said of De Bruyne post match “He’s a very technical player and I always say the way we play is good for him with his style of football. He also scored a lot of goals in Germany so we brought him here because he is a mix of a creative player and also a goalscorer.”
City have learnt the lesson Chelsea haven’t, City have spread the load of creativity with Sterling and De Bruyne and are shedding their over reliance on the excellent David Silva (and to a lesser extent Nasri and Navas). Chelsea are still over reliant on Eden Hazard in the creativity stakes, and that sums up their relative league positions.
Manual Pellegrini has 28 caps as a centre back for Chile, Pochettino has 20 caps as a centre back for Argentina, Poch has the overly cautious Daniel Levy on the purse strings, and Pellegrini is able to be far more expressive in his football with a far larger cheque book from Sheikh Mansour at City.
Pellegrini has evolved from the ageing and inconsistent Yaya Toure to a youthful, zestful hungry side, with Sterling, De Bruyne and Delph wanting to prove themselves on the world stage.
It must bring a wry smile to Pellegrini’s face, a Mourinho-reject Kevin De Bruyne is reaping a rich reward at City. Mourinho mocked Pellegrini for his brief one year stay as Real Madrid manager in the 2009/10 season, and there is no love lost between those two. As they say “revenge is a dish best served cold.”