Manuel Pellegrini has declared that Manchester City can become champions of Europe this season.
City, who had not previously qualified from the group stages, face Barcelona in the last 16 of the Champions League with the first leg at the Etihad Stadium on Feb. 18.
But manager Pellegrini, who took Villarreal to the last four of the competition in 2006 and Malaga into the quarterfinals last season, is bullish about his side’s chances.
He told FourFourTwo: “I think we can win it this season. We’re fighting against the best squads in Europe, but we’ve got the just the same chance to win it as the other teams, at the least.”
Meanwhile, Pellegrini revealed it only took him five minutes to persuade Alvaro Negredo to join City.
The Spain international striker has scored 23 goals since completing a 20 million-pound move from Sevilla last July.
But Pellegrini said: “All I had to do was pick up the phone and have a five-minute chat with him. There’s little doubt the Premier League is the championship for him. He’s made for this league.”
The 60-year-old Chilean also denied that he was offered the chance to become Sir Alex Ferguson’s assistant at Manchester United in 2003, when Carlos Queiroz left to manage Real Madrid.
He added: “No approach was every made and I wouldn’t have accepted any hypothetical offer because it would have changed the route I’ve taken ever since. My intention was always to work in my own way, not as an assistant or helper to someone else.”