Manuel Pellegrini has described his spell at Real Madrid as the most painful of his career as he prepares Manchester City to face the Spanish giants.
The Chilean, now Manchester City manager, lasted just one trophy-less season in charge at the Bernabeu before being dumped in favour of Jose Mourinho in the summer of 2010.
He is now plotting the Spanish side’s downfall in City’s first-ever Champions League semi-final, starting with the sell-out first leg at the Etihad Stadium on Tuesday.
“My time at Madrid was the most painful,” the 62-year-old told Marca. “The team was not complete, it was still in a phase of formation and had some evident problems.
“I had no relationship with the board.”
Pellegrini faced Real seven times as manager of Malaga following his departure from the Spanish capital but his record of one win does not bode well for City fans.
He remains confident, however, of coming out on top against Cristiano Ronaldo and company by the end of the second leg on May 4 and guiding City to the final at the San Siro on May 28.
“I think if we continue with the performances we have had in the last weeks we will have a lot of options to play the final but it’s very important to demonstrate that,” he added at a City press conference ahead of the Premier League match with Stoke on Saturday.
Real’s star man Ronaldo faces a battle to be fit for the first leg with a thigh problem but one man who will be relishing the occasion, having endured his own injury frustrations, is City’s creative midfielder Kevin De Bruyne.
The Belgium international, who missed two months of the season with knee and ankle ligament damage, has been in excellent form since returning at the start of April and scored the decisive goal in the quarter-final victory over Paris Saint-Germain.
“When you start you want to go as far as possible,” he said.
“The main objective always is to win when you start a cup. It is not always possible but we are here in the semi-finals, so I’m looking forward to the games and hopefully we will do good.”
Ex-Chelsea and Wolsburg man De Bruyne, 24, also thinks his fourth-placed side would have enjoyed a better domestic campaign had it not been for so many injuries.
“I will not say we would be in the title race but I think we would have some more points,” he added.
“We didn’t have opportunity to rest some players because some players were also on the edge of being tired or injured. It’s not easy all the time. Now almost everybody is back and it gives us a different feeling.”