Why Man City manager Manuel Pellegrini is never too far away from the sackby Andy Dillon / 16 November 2015, 14:02Tweet
The Sun's Andy Dillon (@andydillon70) looks at how Manuel Pellegrini could come under pressure in the Premier League Sack Race should his Manchester City side not take full advantage of the fortuitous situation they find themselves in.
JOSE MOURINHO once said that you can be lucky and win The Champions League but not The Premier League.
Chelsea's boss was referring to the marathon slog of 38 games which is designed to weed out good fortune in favour of durability and sheer physical force dragging the champions over the lie come May.
But Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini will never again be handed such a favourable hand of cards as he tries to win back the title this season.
Yet it will only serve to show whether or not he can handle the pressure that comes with being smiled upon from above as his team really should be coasting home already.
It is not down to City's stunning array of qualities and skills, more the implosion of the opposition which puts them in command of their destiny so early in the season.
They top the table but still only on goal difference from Arsenal.
The Arsenal team which blows hot and cold more than storm Abigail and is ravaged by so many key injuries that it is just a matter of time before The Gunners run out of steam and space on the treatment table and fall away.
A devastating 5-1 defeat to Bayern Munich in Europe is followed by a scrambled 1-1 draw at home to Tottenham the following Sunday.
Hardly the form of champions that.
Arsenal midfielder only this week has declared that while he is feeling fit and well on the road to recovery from his latest knock, he will not be rushing his glass frame back too early.
Aaron Ramsey and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain's absences have also been key yet Arsenal have managed to keep pace somehow on City.
Manchester United is a team in transition. Fourth in the table yet it attracts far more criticism than praise.
Captain Wayne Rooney is at a crossroads in his career. He is over 30 and the goals have dried up.
Is he about to be moved in the team and withdrawn from the front line for club and country? The consensus is that by this time next year he won't be the lead centre forward for England at Euro 2016.
Memphis Depay's sparkling early form has dissolved and boss Louis van Gaal is taking it in the neck as he becomes the latest manager to struggle trying to build a new empire in the wake of Alex Ferguson.
And then there is Chelsea. In 16th place with only 11 points - just three above the relegation zone.
No goals, no confidence, no light at the end of a long, dark tunnel for the outgoing champions who have already pretty much given up on defending the title.
Yet still Man City have been unable to pull clear.
Pellegrini has already admitted that he will be sacked if he doesn't get the trophy back from Chelsea this season.
Two years without the title at the Etihad is unthinkable.
Well, it seems every one of his major managerial rivals is doing their best to keep him in a job. Arsene Wenger, LVG and Mourinho.
But crushing defeats to West Ham and then Tottenham have shown City to be almost as vulnerable as the rest and that could well be Pellegrini's ultimate downfall.
His team is still in the sights of Leicester, Spurs and West Ham, who should be way down the field by now.
It is widely accepted that Chelsea won the league last season because the opposition was relatively poor.
This season is shaping up to be similar and Pellegrini needs to seize on that. Liverpool, Southampton and Swansea are next on the list before a showdown with Arsenal - just four days before Christmas.
Bonkers as it may sound, if City are not at least two or three points clear by December 21 then Santa's sack may be just a sign of things to come.