José Mourinho has questioned Roberto Mancini's record with Manchester City in the Champions League, claiming it is "not normal" for a club with the potential to win the competition to be eliminated in the group stage.
The Real Madrid manager believes City will be knocked out during the phase for a successive season even if Mancini's team beat Real on Wednesday and Borussia Dortmund in their final match.
City are bottom of Group D with two points while Real are second with seven and yet to be defeated. Mourinho, who has won the competition with Porto and Internazionale, said of City: "I think they are a team to win the competition, one of the teams to win it. I think it is normal if a big team doesn't win the competition because there are other teams with the same power, desire and responsibility and only one can win. I don't think that it is normal when you are out of the competition at a very early stage. This season they will be out. I think they can win tomorrow and at Dortmund – why not? But eight points is not enough and I think they will be out for a second successive time and that must be difficult for them."
In the opening group match City led 2-1 at Real with four minutes remaining before Mourinho's side won 3-2. Given how close Mancini's side were to beating his, is the Portuguese surprised at City's struggle in the competition? "It's a difficult group and since the beginning we know a big team or two would be out so every mistake is costly. Every game is a risk," he said. "Other teams have easy groups and know from day one they will qualify easy. City, Real Madrid and Borussia want to win but we all knew we could be out in the group, especially because Ajax are taking points.
"That first game [in Madrid] was crucial. If City won that match, the history would be different but we won that match with a great reaction and now we are in a position where we depend only on ourselves and we are in a good condition to qualify. I repeat I think City will be out. They can win [on Wednesday evening and at Dortmund], but eight points is not enough so City will be the big team that will be out." Mourinho, who has often said he would like to again manage in the Premier League, stonewalled any discussion on the subject. "Basically, it's not interesting to talk about my career. More interesting to talk about the Champions League," he said. His contract expires in 2016.
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010
image: © Ronnie Macdonald