City revived their interest in Gago late on Monday, shortly before the transfer deadline, after a work permit hearing thwarted a deal for Parma’s McDonald Mariga.
But the 11th-hour move failed, leaving Real sporting director Jorge Valdano pointing the finger firmly in the direction of Eastlands.
“They had nothing prepared, not even one document signed,” Valdano said. “They had not reached an agreement with the player and they would have had to have done everything in 40 minutes.”
City were criticised by AC Milan for their clumsy attempt to sign Brazilian superstar Kaka in a world record £100m deal in January 2009. Eastlands chief executive Garry Cook, blamed for that episode, has also come under fire for his outspoken approach.
Gago’s agent Marcello Lombilla added: “City used us. This has never happened to me before. I don’t want to talk about the figures that City were offering because they approached Madrid without even knowing there wasn’t physically enough time to put something together.”
January signing Patrick Vieira, meanwhile, could make his long-awaited debut on Saturday against Hull after shaking off an ankle injury.
Vieira, 33, said: “I think the future for this club is fantastic.”