Pellegrini plots to take down old employer
MANUEL PELLEGRINI is playing mind games with Real Madrid by hinting that he has a spy in the Bernabeu camp.
The Manchester City boss who was sacked by Real after one season in charge insists he knew that Cristiano Ronaldo would not play in last week’s 0-0 draw in the semi-final first leg.
The La Liga giants had said that Ronaldo would recover from a thigh injury in time to play at the Etihad.
But he missed the game – although that was not a surprise to the Chilean who saw Ronaldo through his first season in Spain after his £80 million move from Manchester United at the start of the 2009-10 campaign.
Ronaldo is set to recover and play in the second leg tonight but Pellegrini makes it clear that he will know one way or another.
Pelle, still bitter over his treatment by Real when he was sacked to make way for Jose Mourinho, says: “I have many friends in Spain.
“I always try to have as much as information before every game.
“When I had a meeting with the team I said that Ronaldo would not play on the morning of the game.”
Indeed during City’s preparations 24 hours before the clash he had his team play a practice game based on Ronaldo’s absence.
The City boss has also wound up his ex-employers by suggesting that they were running scared last Tuesday night.
He says: “I was surprised about especially the first 45 minutes against us by Real Madrid because they didn’t shoot once.
“We intended to recover the ball in front of their box. They were waiting.
“Here in Manchester we were the team that wanted it – but we could not create enough real chances.
“The team that was trying to create chances was Manchester City at least in the first 60 minutes.
“We wanted it but we couldn’t do it because we lost too many passes in attacking.
“But the mentality was to press high, to recover, to reach them in their box.”
And he vows that City will be going for it again on Wednesday night as he bids to write a chapter in the history of the club that has never been this far before.
Pelle stresses: “Of course this is a game of 180 minutes and they know they have to play the second leg.
“I am sure we will see a different Real Madrid trying to be an offensive team.
“But we are not going there just to keep the draw. We are going to try to score from the beginning.
“Our best plan is to concentrate on them as a team, not just one player because Real has a lot of different players that can make a difference - not only Cristiano Ronaldo.
“I have a plan to stop Real Madrid but the plan will be about defending and attacking and not just thinking about just one player.
“It would be crazy for me if we work every day of the week playing in one style and then when you have an important team you change all.
“I don’t think that your players will believe you.
“I have said before that I always try to have a scoring team. For the third season in a row this is the highest-scoring team in the Premier League.
“We don’t know, all of us, how to all defend in our own box so we are going to try to play as we always do in the Champions League.
“Like we did – against PSG, against Sevilla, against Dynamo Kiev – to score three goals against Real would be very good!”
Pellegrini will be replaced by Pep Guardiola in the summer.
Asked if he had a leaving party organised for when his departure he could not resist one more dig at Real by declaring he might just have it at the scene of the Champions League final, saying: “Probably we will do it in Milan.”
Meanwhile Pellegrini has turned down the chance to stay working at City alongside Pep Guardiola.
He will be replaced by the Spanish super-coach this summer with a year left on his contract.
But, desperate to remain in the Premier League and on Everton’s hit-list to replace doomed Roberto Martinez, he wants to move on.
He also rejected the opportunity to remain within the City “family”.
The City Group have clubs in New York, Melbourne and Japan, while other outposts are being planned in South America and China.
But Pellegrini, whose side face the Saints today with another Champions League place anything but assured, wants more success in England.
He has already ignored an approach from Zenit St. Petersburg, while Valencia have also targeted him.
The 62-year-old will also look at offers from South America and China but he is waiting to see what jobs become available across the water before making a decision on his future.