Pellegrini on the edge


MADRID, April 12- Manuel Pellegrini, having splashed out over 250 million euros in a desperate attempt to halt the Barcelona juggernaut, looks doomed to become Real Madrid's ninth coaching casualty since 2003.

Already under pressure after dispiriting early exits from the Champions League and Kings Cup, the Chilean’s future looked even more bleak on Sunday after his team’s 2-0 home defeat to Barcelona in ‘El Clasico’.

The loss means Real trail champions Barcelona by three points in the title race with seven games left and could face another season without a trophy.

After his summer spending spree – the bulk of it on Kaka and Cristiano Ronaldo – Pellegrini was always going to be facing a severe test in his debut season, particularly as the Champions League final is to take place at their Bernabeu stadium.

"I am not the one who has to talk about me staying on or about my qualities or what I have done," said Pellegrini.

"I have mixed feelings of frustration and helplessness. Barcelona weren’t the team they have been in the past but they got the goal and it made them stronger."

Pellegrini has already seen his side lose to unknowns Alcorcon in the Kings Cup, crash out of the Champions League to Lyon at the last 16 stage and the latest Clasico defeat gives them an uphill task.

Since 2003 Real have had nine different coaches.

The previous eight have not managed to complete two full seasons in charge and names such as Inter Milan manager Jose Mourinho, Liverpool coach Rafael Benitez and Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger have been mentioned as successors.

"There are 21 points left to play for and Real Madrid don’t give up," insisted Pellegrini.

"We are obliged to force Barcelona to win all their games and we will keep on going right until the end."

Before Saturday’s game, Real had a perfect 15 league wins at home and had won 12 consecutive league matches to move above Barcelona on goal difference.

However, Real were run ragged by Barca in terms of possession and goals from Lionel Messi (32 minutes) and Pedro Rodriguez (55 minutes) condemned Madrid to a fourth successive Clasico defeat.

Ronaldo, the world’s most expensive player, was a frustrated figure during the Clasico as he was starved of the ball but the Portuguese star said the title race was far from over.

"Barcelona were far superior but we have to pick ourselves up because there are seven games left," said Ronaldo.

"If we win the league it can’t be talked of as a failure and we have to believe it is possible.

"It is never nice to lose but we have to learn from the defeats and we can’t give up."

Real are in action at Almeria on Thursday as they look to bounce back from the Clasico loss while Barcelona host Deportivo La Coruna 24 hours earlier at Camp Nou.