Pellegrini suspects the worst over his Real Madrid future

Madrid: Manuel Pellegrini spoke as if he suspected his days were numbered as Real Madrid coach when he gave his pre-match news conference on Saturday ahead of the last game of the season at Malaga.

The nine-times European champions are one point behind La Liga leaders Barcelona, who host Real Valladolid at the same time on Sunday.

An exciting final-day showdown, however, may not be enough to save Pellegrini, who has clearly been affected by the steady stream of rumours in the media linking Inter Milan`s Jose Mourinho with the Real job for next season.

"All year, and especially in recent weeks, perhaps there hasn`t been a clear reply (from the club on my continuity)," Pellegrini told reporters.

"Amidst the uncertainty I have always had the support of the players."

The Chilean said he felt there was no smoke without fire over the reports he would not be completing the second year of his contract, but defended his record over the last year.

"I don`t think Real speak behind the back of their coach, this isn`t their style," he added. "But I am not so innocent to believe that all the rumours are simply speculation by journalists."

"If, for whatever reason, the project doesn`t continue the person who comes in will have a difficult job... he will have to win more than 100 points in the league to do better than me."

"I know failing to win a title isn`t good but I don`t think the final decision will change much whether we win the league or not."

Real were embarrassed by third tier club Alcorcon in the King`s Cup and dumped out of the Champions League by Olympique Lyon at the last 16 stage in March.

In the league they have fought a neck-and-neck battle with Barcelona that has seen La Liga milestones smashed by both sides.

The previous points record for a season of 92, set by Real in 1997 when there were 22 teams in the top division, has been passed by both clubs and could reach 99 on Sunday if Barca beat Valladolid.

Pellegrini`s future is unlikely to be known immediately, but a local media frenzy is expected when Mourinho leads Inter Milan to the Bernabeu for the Champions League final against Bayern Munich on May 22.

Bureau Report

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