Clearly it is far too early to write City and United out of the title race as, not only are there 32 games left, but pretty much every contender is adapting to new management, apart from Arsenal who could end up winning the league by default.
But in seeking to find their perfect matches, both Manchester clubs appear to have forgotten to employ winning coaches.
A ‘holistic’ approach was City’s mantra as they sought to replace Roberto Mancini, who had clear and ultimately fatal faults with man-management and tactical acuity in European matches, but was still a winner, with a proven track record at Internazionale – which he justified in 2012 at Eastlands.
There is no doubt that Pellegrini’s sides play attractively, positively– Villarreal only became the nearly-men of European football because of the Chilean’s style and tactics, and Malaga could have joined them as everyone’s favourite third team had they not imploded financially.
And there was a strong strategic basis to United’s decision to plump with Moyes, whose meticulous organisation and determined personality marked him out as a mini-Fergie.
But, crucially, neither of these men have a track record of actually winning things.
This would all be very well if employing a highly-rated young coach with a burgeoning reputation as a progressive tactician. It would be fine if a club man was being promoted to the top job – say a Ryan Giggs or a Patrick Vieira, someone with an acute understanding of the dynamics of the team and its administration. It works for Barcelona.
But the pair tasked with continuing the People’s Republic of Mancunia’s dominance of English football have had plenty of time to collect titles but, before getting their new jobs, neither had done so.
Moyes at least has an excuse, having managed an overachieving Everton side on a relatively shoestring budget. But the lack of expectation, lack of pressure to get instant results or win trophies, meant he could assemble a functional side over time, time which allowed him to cajole the likes of Leighton Baines and Marouane Fellaini from promising youngsters to international-class players.
Pellegrini, however, does not have such an excuse. While his teams play a brand of football that is easy on the eye, they have a history of defensive frailty, of tendencies to implode. Sound familiar after farcical defeats to Cardiff City and Aston Villa?
Crucially, Pellegrini was given the Real Madrid job in 2009.
Yet that season was disastrous by Real’s standards. They finished second in La Liga but it was a spectacularly lop-sided competition four years ago, with Valencia struggling financially and Atletico Madrid in transition.
They also went out of the Champions League in the first knockout round, to a Lyon side that had come to the end of its glory cycle.
Most embarrassingly, Pellegrini’s Real were humiliated by lower-league Alcorcon in the cup – a result so famed that ‘Alcorconazo’ has entered the nation’s lexicon.
That shambles is telling because it boasted one of the most spectacular implosions in Spanish football history – the mighty Real fielded a fairly strong XI, yet lost 4-0 to the third-division part-timers. Guti’s spat with Pellegrini during the match hinted at an inability to handle big-time egos, the kind of egos City’s dressing room – even without Carlos Tevez and Mario Balotelli – is rife.
It could be argued that a half-competent chartered accountant may have handled the transfer window and early season better than Moyes, but at least the Scot can hide behind the knowledge that Fergie’s genius had masked a middling United team for at least three seasons.
But City have the best squad in the league, not quite so comfortably as previous seasons thanks to Tottenham’s post-Bale spree and Arsenal’s remarkable coup for Mesut Ozil, but still clearly stronger and deeper than the rest.
The term ‘holistic’ was widely derided when Manchester City ill-advisedly used it to describe the approach the club would take following the appointment of Pellegrini. ‘Holism’ is the belief that systems should be viewed as a whole and not the sum of their parts.
Popular among social scientists, unconventional medical practitioners and yogis, holism is viewed with a degree of scepticism by the more reductionist scientific community, which generally sees systems as a result of their individual components, components which should be analysed and deconstructed scientifically and with fine attention to detail.
‘Holism’ is all very well and good if your system boasts vastly superior components – in this case its players. But the reductionist approaches taken by Jose Mourinho, Andre Villas-Boas, Carlo Ancelotti and to a certain extent Fergie yields unquestionable results. And even Barcelona – the prime exponents of a ‘holistic’ approach in football – pay great attention to detail, discipline and preparation. The tiki-taka is merely a style, a veneer to one of the greatest examples of long-term planning and preparation in football.
And what did Pellegrini’s holistic approach yield once he left Villarreal? The club went into a cycle of failure, and were relegated. That will not happen to City, but we should not be surprised if they take a step or two forward under the Chilean.
Moyes too is in danger of taking United backwards as others progress rapidly. He has the air of a man out of his depth, unable to cope with the demands both of his squad and support. It remains to be seen how patient the Glazers are under this level of pressure.
At the time I held the belief both managerial appointments were potentially weak; Jose Mourinho and - despite his claims he would take a break - Jupp Heynckes were surely the men for these jobs. But I did feel the senior players in both squads would at least keep heads above water.
Events so far this season add to these concerns. The awful dirge that United are playing, and the defensive panic City are prone to are not mere blips but fundamental flaws that need rectifying. And if these problems are not solved by Christmas, don't bet against the mandatory managerial merry-go-round moving higher up the food chain than in previous seasons.