Real's Pellegrini shrugs off criticism

Real Madrid's embattled coach Manuel Pellegrini (AFP photo)

MADRID, April 14, 2010 (AFP) - Real Madrid's embattled coach Manuel Pellegrini on Wednesday shrugged off media speculation over his future following a string of disappointing results.

"Right now the least of my concerns is my future. I am not worried about what will happen," he told a news conference.

"We will sit down at the appropriate time to discuss options. Right now is not the time. All we must do now is focus on the next seven matches."

The Spanish press has piled pressure on the Chilean after the club lost at home to arch-rivals Barcelona in 'El Clasico' at the weekend.

Possible replacements mentioned include Inter Milan's Jose Mourinho, Liverpool's Spanish manager Rafael Benitez - who came top of a poll conducted by 'Marca' earlier this week - Chelsea's Carlo Ancelotti and former Chelsea boss Luiz Felipe Scolari, now with Uzbekistan side Bunyodkor.

The 2-0 loss to Barca has left them trailing the champions by three points with seven games left.

Pellegrini, who was appointed last summer, has already seen his side lose to unknowns Alcorcon in the King's Cup and crash out of the Champions League to French side Lyon at the last 16 stage.

The poor results have come despite a 250-million-euro summer spending spree - the bulk of it on Kaka and Cristiano Ronaldo.

Real look to bounce back at Almeria on Thursday as Barcelona host Deportivo La Coruna 24 hours earlier at Camp Nou.

"We said before the Clasico that whoever won the match still cannot afford to think they are the champions and that whoever lost cannot believe the league is over," Pellegrini said.

"The season ends on May 16, so we will try to cut into the lead until the very last match.

"This team is able to pick itself up as it has done in the past. Over the last three days I have seen the players get over the loss and focus on what needs to be done."

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