Cape Town - Manuel Pellegrini believes the poorly-timed announcement of his successor Pep Guardiola's appointment derailed Manchester City's title charge.
After the news broke the outgoing Chilean boss suffered back-to-back defeats, with the Citizens slipping up against title rivals Tottenham Hotspur and Leicester City respectively - defeats he feels were crucial in this season's title race.
The former Real Madrid boss has lamented the way they were unable to recover from the February period as they now trial the Foxes by 13 points with five games left in the English Premier League campaign.
"For different reasons we lost important games in February, against Leicester and Tottenham - two games which do not allow us to be involved in the title," he told the Daily Mail.
"I am frustrated because we never expected to lose those games at home against Leicester and Tottenham. But there are a lot of reasons why those things happened.
"At the start of February there was news about the change of the manager, about players who will not continue here next season, about a lot of things that involved the minds of all the players.
"We had those defeats at home, but now we are stable again and very happy to finish playing the way we have in these last games."
Pellegrini believes the uncertainty caused by the media speculation was just too much at the time, but hailed his players' character for turning their season around as they now find themselves in the semi-finals of the Champions League.
"It's not easy for the players when you read in newspapers all things that will happen next season - all the players who will go out, all the players that will come in. It's not easy for the players to focus their mind.
"But I think the merit of this squad is always that it had a lot of character, personality. We never give up, we continue in the same way, and I hope we will see in the future in the Champions League - I am sure this team, playing in this way, can play in the final."