Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said Manchester City's mid-season announcement of Pep Guardiola's appointment hurt Manuel Pellegrini's chances of success with the club this term.
Wenger is preparing to pile even more misery on City's season, after the club were eliminated in the Champions League semi-finals by Real Madrid midweek as Pellegrini's time in Manchester comes to an end.
Pellegrini will be replaced by Guardiola at the end of the season.
"They invested huge amount of money for years and years and years. It looks like this plan has been coming," said Wenger, whose Arsenal will face City in the Premier League on Sunday.
"Once they took [sporting director] Txiki Begiristain [who worked with Guardiola at Barcelona] you could see what was coming. He has always known that in the back of his mind I think.
"It is difficult because you have less power when the players know you are moving out."
City made the announcement on February 1 when the club were second in the league.
Now, Pellegrini faces the danger of falling out of the top four, with cross-town rivals Manchester United breathing down their necks with two games to play.
And Wenger - whose side is not guaranteed Champions League football themselves - said whoever misses out will face a long road back.
"We want to be directly in the Champions League next year, everyone fights to be in there," the Frenchman added.
"When you do it, everyone says it's normal. The teams who are not in, then you realise how big it is.
"No-one wants to be in the Europa League until the semi-final maybe. You want to be in the Champions League."