Real Madrid director general Jorge Valdano has given under-pressure coach Manuel Pellegrini a vote of confidence after the Spanish side crashed out of the Champions League.
Miralem Pjanic’s 75th-minute cancelled out Cristiano Ronaldo’s opener to give Lyon a 2-1 aggregate win and a place in the quarter-finals.
Madrid, who spent over £240 million on the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Kaka this summer, have now gone out at the last 16 stage of the Champions League for six successive years and had high hopes of making this year’s final, hosted at the Bernabeu.
Both Pellegrini and Valdano were quizzed about the coach’s future after the game, but Valdano played down the likelihood of an imminent change of manager.
“We will respect him because we believe in his work, although we know that the coach of Madrid is always accompanied by controversy,” Valdano said of Pellegrini. “
He has a contract for next season and the plan is that he will continue being our coach. The season hasn’t finished and there are still things to fight for.”
Valdano added: “I’ve suffered like all Madrid fans. We had high hopes but we couldn’t overcome an opponent who made the game very hard for us and who overcame the difficult situation they faced in the first half.
“In the second half there was tiredness, although we wanted to win. This mixture of tiredness and our own ambition made us lose the game and the tie.”
Pellegrini also came in for criticism from Kaka’s advisor, who called the Real Madrid coach a “coward” following his substitution of the Brazilian at the Bernabeu.
Diogo Kotscho, via his personal Twitter account, criticised the Chilean and accused Pellegrini of “trying to take the focus off [his] own incompetence”.
However, Kaka insists that he was not upset with the substitution. “I was not angry about the change, but the scoreline,” he told Marca. “I was replaced by Raul, who has a lot of experience in scoring.”
Madrid replaced arch rivals Barcelona at the top of the Primera Division standings last weekend after defeating Sevilla 3-2 at the Bernabeu.