Pellegrini wants Betis fighting in European competitions

FILE - In this Monday, Dec. 9, 2019 file photo, West Ham's manager Manuel Pellegrini looks out from the bench before their English Premier League soccer match against Arsenal at the London Stadium in London. Real Betis says that Manuel Pellegrini has agreed to coach the Spanish club next season on a contract that will last through 2023. The deal was announced Thursday, July 9, 2020.

MADRID (AP) — Manuel Pellegrini’s main goal in his new coaching job with Real Betis is to make the Spanish club a regular in European competitions.

Pellegrini was officially introduced as Betis’ new coach on Monday after signing a three-year deal that will begin next season.

“This is a team that has to be fighting for European competitions,” the Chilean coach said. “It needs it as an institution and it will be my main objective to help the club take that leap and achieve better results on the field.”

Pellegrini helped Villarreal thrive in Europe more than a decade ago, making it to the Champions League semifinals in 2006 and quarterfinals in 2009. He also led the club to a runner-up finish in the Spanish league in 2008.

“If they told me before arriving at Villarreal that we would play in the semifinals and quarterfinals of the Champions League, or that we would finish second in La Liga, people would have said that that was crazy,” the 66-year-old Pellegrini said.

Betis last played in the Champions League in 2005-06. It made it to the Europa League in 2013-14 and 2018-19.

Pellegrini said he hoped to achieve with Betis the same success he had with his previous clubs in Spain.

“I'm convinced that Betis has a squad with a lot of quality and that can achieve great things,” Pellegrini said. “I will try to help with my experience to try to get the most out of the team.”

Pellegrini, a former player, left Villarreal in 2009 to coach Real Madrid, where he stayed for a season. He later led Manchester City to the English Premier League title in 2014. He also coached Málaga, West Ham and Chinese club Hebei China Fortune.

Betis fired coach Joan “Rubi” Ferrer last month after an up-and-down season and is under interim coach Alexis Trujillo. The team is in 13th place with two matches left. It has won only two of its nine matches since the Spanish league resumed following the coronavirus break.

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