REAL MADRID - MANCHESTER CITY

Pellegrini takes aim: "Real Madrid is a very political club"

Manuel Pellegrini spoke about his time as Real Madrid coach in an interview with 'El Mundo': "At Real Madrid people who have no understanding of football interfere".

Pellegrini takes aim: "Real Madrid is a very political club"
BEN STANSALL AFP

Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini gave an interview to Spanish newspaper El Mundo in which he spoke about the season he spent at Real Madrid, and his time in England - inincluding numerous day trips to the Tate and National Galleries, Scotland, Ireland and the Cotswolds: "If you want to be successful in a country, you always have to immerse yourself in their idiosyncrasies..."

Real Madrid stint: "When you are in charge at Real Madrid, you have to be able to accept that it is not just a sporting club, it's also very political. And also to what extent you are willing to allow people who, in my opinion, do not have sufficient knowledge of football interfere... If a coach lets somebody who has no understanding of the game interfere, or allows themselves to be weakened by the criticism which originates from the political side, the sporting side or even for personal reasons, then I don't think that person is suitable for the job.

That's why I feel I was lucky enough to have passed one of the toughest challenges I have come up against without letting it affect me at all. I always knew that what the players appreciated most about me was that when we turned up for work on Monday morning, nothing had changed -  whether we had won or lost - the work was the same, the concepts were the same, independently of what was being said on the outside. I never fielded a player to please someone else - or because they had been criticized by someone else. Madrid have a model which is not going to change".

Being ousted by Madrid at the end of the season: "I was perfectly aware of what was going to happen because Florentino Pérez told [Villarreal president] Fernando Roig and he told me (smiles)".

What memories do you have of the Bernabéu? "Only good ones. Sadly, I left with a bitter feeling for not having won the league, even though that would have been my first and last LaLiga title"

The return leg: "We won't be going to the Bernabéu attempting to get a 0-0 draw. We'll be trying to attack, press them and score, because a draw will only suit us if we get a goal".

Cristiano Ronaldo: "He's a player who has made all the difference for the past few years. I had the bad luck of being in charge during the only time when Cristiano was out for two months with an ankle problem...".

Two years at City: "During the last four seasons - two under Mancini and two with me, City have won the Premier League twice, ended as runners-up twice, and won three Cups, maybe ones of less significance but anyway... In Europe, before I arrived, the team was always eliminated at the group stage, after that we were knocked out in the Last 16 by Barcelona and now we're in the semi-final.

Working in England is an experience that no coach should ever pass up. The organization is perfect, football is entertaining - for the fans and for television; and the support from the people is just amazing. All of the stadiums are always full, in every competition. Here, fans support their club - whoever they might be, much more than in Spain.

The future: "I would like to take on a project which has the necessary resources and conditions to be able to work. I'd love to work in the Italian league, the experience of coaching there would be great. And I am not ruling out returning to Spain; I spent 10 wonderful years there".