Pellegrini announces Malaga departure

Madrid, May 23 (IANS) Malaga coach Manuel Pellegrini has confirmed he will leave the Spanish football club at the end of the current season.

The Chilean confirmed his departure at a public appearance at the Deputation of Malaga Wednesday, where he was awarded the Golden Shield of the province of the region for his excellent work at the club, reports Xinhua.

Pellegrini, who had previously coached Villarreal and Real Madrid in Spain, arrived at Malaga in November 2010 with the club at the bottom of the Primera Liga and looking favourites to relegation to the Spanish second division.

However, in his first season he was able to turn the club around and last season saw Malaga finish in fourth place in the league and qualify for the Champions League.

Despite losing key players, such as Solomon Rondon, Santi Cazorla and Ruud Van Nistelrooy over the summer and Nacho Monreal in January and having to make do with loanees and players who had arrived on free transfers due to the club’s economic problems, this season has seen Pellegrini steer them to seventh place in the Liga.

Meanwhile the club reached the quarterfinals of the Champions League in their first appearance in the competition and they were just seconds from eliminating Champions League finalists, Borussia Dortmund, before conceding two goals in injury time in the return leg of their quarterfinal.

Malaga look likely to lose more players in the summer and now Pellegrini has confirmed that Sunday’s league game at home to Deportivo la Coruna, the penultimate match of the campaign, will be his last home game as coach.

“Professionally, I am living my final hours with Malaga and Sunday I will coach my last game as Malaga coach in La Rosaleda Stadium,” confirmed Pellegrini.

Part of Pellegrini’s merit has been to maintain morale at the club as star players departed while those who remained were owed outstanding wages and the club’s fans believe he is the best coach Malaga has ever had.

“It is going to be very emotional and we hope to leave the club qualified for Europe again and after having fulfilled our mission here, with the misfortune that the project changed,” said Pellegrini in reference to the fact that the funds from club owner Sheik Al Thami dried up a year ago.

“I have reached a decent and satisfying agreement with the club. Everyone has the right to choose their own road and I am not leaving in search of economic reward, but for a sporting project which will allow me to feel fulfilled,” concluded the coach.

Pellegrini is the favourite to replace Roberto Mancini, who was sacked by Manchester City a week ago and news of his imminent departure will only strengthen the expectation that he is on the verge of swapping the Primera Liga for the Premier League.

The past three days have seen the departure of two other coaches in the Primera Liga confirmed, with Jose Mourinho to abandon Real Madrid at the end of the season, while Philippe Montanier will swap Real Sociedad to coach French side, Rennes.

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