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Dec, 20, 2012

Pellegrini not out for revenge

Malaga coach Manuel Pellegrini says he does not think that Saturday's Primera Division meeting with Real Madrid will be decisive for Jose Mourinho's future.

• Blog: 'Loser' Pellegrini targets Mou

Last weekend's 2-2 home draw against Espanyol led to further media speculation over whether Mourinho would see out the current season, a situation not dissimilar to that faced by the Chilean coach himself who received regular criticism during his own season in charge of Madrid in 2009/10.

Mourinho has at times been dismissive of his predecessor at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu, but Pellegrini told Spanish radio station Onda Cero on Wednesday night that he did not see the weekend's game as a chance for revenge. "I do think I will be the judge of Mourinho in this weekend's game," Pellegrini said.

"We are not looking at the game like that. Neither are we concerned about what might happen at Real Madrid. For us it is a very important game. We have had a few clashes with them, and the first was very tough due to my past. "Real Madrid remain the most powerful team, the favourite. They are going through a difficult spell, and on Saturday we will try and give them a good game. We know it will be very difficult."

Despite a feeling he was never really accepted at the Bernabeu, Pellegrini got his Madrid side - which included current stars Iker Casillas, Sergio Ramos, Xabi Alonso and Cristiano Ronaldo - to chase Pep Guardiola's Barcelona all the way, finishing with 96 points, just three behind the champions.

"I am very grateful to all the Real Madrid players," he added. "They knew I was out from the month of October, but they still played a great season."

Pellegrini also claimed that Madrid's fans had been behind him, even after Madrid were surprisingly knocked out of the Champions League by Lyon in the quarter-finals.

"There were surveys just after we got knocked out of the Champions League," he said. "80% of the fans supported me."

Malaga currently sit fourth in La Liga and have reached the last 16 of the Champions League, despite the financial issues which led to last season's star Santi Cazorla being sold to Arsenal in a cut-price €19 million deal.

Pellegrini said the club's Qatari owners should not have accepted such a low price for the Spanish international.

"Cazorla leaving at that time and for that amount of money was absurd," he said.

Pellegrini also had a message of support for currently ill Barcelona coach Tito Vilanova.

"Football generates a lot of passion, but there are other things which are much more important," he said. "One of them is health. What he has done at Barcelona in recent seasons has been exceptional. It is very difficult to bring together players like that in the same generation."

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