Real Betis reaching a crossroads as Manuel Pellegrini tenure matures

Real Betis are having a curious season, as they look to pick themselves up from a surprising 2-0 defeat to Rayo Vallecano ahead of the final quarter of the season. Los Verdiblancos have been far from inspiring this year, but would still qualify for Europe in their current position of seventh, should Athletic Club win the Copa del Rey.

That is a long way from assured though, and as interest in Manuel Pellegrini from Saudi Arabia surfaces again, some are wondering if the Chilean might be tempted to accept that he himself has described as a very lucrative offer.

Betis are going through a transition from the team Pellegrini initially built, and with various young assets like Assane Diao, Ez Abde, Johnny Cardoso and Chadi Riad, those in the igaming industry might be tempted to start a campaign with one of Spanish football’s giants. Yet the young players that Betis have signed clearly need time, after the likes of Luiz Henrique were sold off, and Abner Vinicius looks as if he will leave this summer too.

Isco has been a revelation for Betis, and it is no coincidence that their form dropped off when he was injured. Meanwhile German Pezzella and Rui Silva remain useful veterans, and if they could make Marc Roca’s loan deal permanent, then their midfield would feel settled for the next season or two, with Cardoso alongside them.

The team that Pellegrini took to a Copa del Rey trophy and to two fifth-place finishes is no longer in situ though, with Nabil Fekir struggling with injuries, and key players like Sergio Canales, Luiz Felipe and Alex Moreno all being sold for healthy fees. It was just over a year ago that Borja Iglesias was being linked with a €30m move to Atletico Madrid, and this January he was loaned out to Bayer Leverkusen, seemingly no longer enjoying the confidence of Pellegrini.

After Pellegrini declared that he was deliberately not focusing on their European campaign, and an early Copa del Rey exit to Alaves, it seems clear – and there is an argument he does not – that Pellegrini does not have the same faith in his squad as he used to. Their younger recruits will require patience, but whether Pellegrini has the energy to build another side at Betis is a fair question too.

If Betis and Pellegrini do decide to move on, Los Verdiblancos face an exceedingly tough task to replace him. While weighing up whether his cycle is over, they must consider that Pellegrini has the highest win percentage of any Betis manager, and has won the only trophy in the last two decades. He arrived at the club after a disappointing spell at West Ham, but most of his work has been impressive since arriving in Europe, and the chances are, they will not find another of his level on the open market. It’s set to be series of tough decisions ahead for Betis.

La Liga - Club News