Premier League

Mancini stands by tactical choices

Roberto Mancini looks concerned during Manchester City's defeat by Ajax.
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MANCHESTER, England

Roberto Mancini is adamant top players should fit into any system after shrugging off more questions over Manchester City's midweek display.

City's Champions League hopes are hanging by a thread after a chaotic encounter with Ajax in Amsterdam on Wednesday, which the Blues lost, despite taking the lead, amid recriminations over Mancini's formation.

With his side losing 2-1, Mancini hauled off Joleon Lescott to play three defenders, and they immediately conceded again.

In his post-match interview Micah Richards claimed his team-mates did not like the system and indicated it was being used under orders from Mancini but under sufferance from the players.

"If you are a top player it is not important what system you use," said Mancini today.

"If you don't understand a system like that, you cannot play for a top team.

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"What Micah said is not important. He answered a question. I understand people want to write about it, but to me it doesn't matter.

"Maybe Micah doesn't know because it his first game for two and a half months."

City must now win their final three games to stand any chance of reaching the knock-out stages.

Mancini has described that as being a "miracle" scenario.

However, he does not feel it is a time to just give up.

"This is an important season for us," he said.

"If we allow one defeat to alter that we would be really weak.

"Strong teams can lose a game but it is important you understand the reasons, and what mistakes were made.

"You can learn from this and improve for the next game."

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