Together with Borussia Dortmund in Group D, Mourinho's Real will take their place in the last 16 following their 1-1 draw at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday night. It is the very minimum demanded by the hard-to-please media pack who follow the Spanish giants and with whom Mourinho has such a spiky relationship.
"I admire the fact that clubs support their manager," said Mourinho.
"City is out of Champions League. But Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund are very good teams and we knew a big team would be out.
"It is good that it was City because Roberto (Mancini) can work without any kind of problem I believe.
"If it was Real Madrid, the press wouldn't let me return to Madrid."
It is the same kind of intense scrutiny successive Chelsea managers have operated under since he left Stamford Bridge in September 2007. Roberto Di Matteo became the latest casualty of Roman Abramovich's seemingly never-ending quest for complete perfection on Wednesday when he was axed.
"I am never happy when a manager is sacked," he said.
"It can happen to me so I never enjoy it. I always feel sorry for him and his family.
"Our lives are very similar. I am not happy with any situation.
"Rafael Benitez is the surprise choice to take over from Di Matteo on an interim basis. The Spaniard had a tempestuous relationship with Mourinho during his days as Liverpool manager, masterminding two Champions League semi-final wins over the Blues, including in 2005 when Luis Garcia took the Merseyside outfit to Istanbul with what Mourinho described as a "ghost" goal. But Mourinho put his differences with Benitez to one side to wish him good luck.
"I like my old clubs to win," he said. "I always wish the managers of my former clubs well so I always wish good look to managers of my former clubs. "I wish good luck to Benitez."