Real Betis face Manchester United on Thursday at Old Trafford, with a place in the Europa League quarter-finals on the line. While Erik ten Hag has taken the Premier League by storm, being heralded as the next genius, on Thursday he will face one of the smartest and most wily managers in the game, Manuel Pellegrini.
The Chilean is 69 years of age, but continues to do excellent work in Seville. Last season he secured Real Betis’ first trophy since 2005, and despite a relatively little investment, are seriously contesting a Champions League place for the second season in a row.
Speaking to Sid Lowe in The Guardian ahead of the Mancester United clash, the pair were struggling to work out if there were any other managers younger than him at the top level in Spain. They were unsuccessful, but Pellegrini responded with an excellent answer on how he maintains his youthful enthusiasm, and not least his excellent head of hair.
“There are two ages: the chronological age and the ‘age’ that’s about your own demands, activity, enthusiasm. My dad used to say something which stays with me: ‘Do the same as yesterday and you won’t age a day.’ When do you get old? When you stop. When you can’t be bothered.”
“When you think: ‘I lost, so what? I’ve had a great career.’ No, I lost and I’m bitter, angry. I don’t leave home. That’s my character, I can’t change it now. As long as I get that same pre‑game knot in the stomach as when I started, I’m totally alive. It’s not age. Every game I’m starting from zero.”
‘Even though you’ve done it all’, Lowe asked him?
“But I haven’t, I’ve still got things I have to do. I have to win on Thursday.”
Betis are massive underdogs against Manchester United, with the likes of Nabil Fekir set to miss the match and the rest of the season with an anterior cruciate ligament injury. However as Los Verdiblancos demonstrated on Sunday against Real Madrid in their 0-0 draw, they do have it in them to defend stubbornly.