It’s been a disastrous Champions League campaign for Roberto Mancini and Manchester City. Last night’s defeat in Amsterdam left the English champions bottom of Group D, with just one point from a possible nine.

Mancini has come in for criticism for his tactical decisions in the competition, last night changing the formation to a 3-5-2 which resulted in Ajax scoring two goals in quick succession. With one being from a corner, and one with the aid of a deflection, it is hard to pinpoint whether the change in formation was critical to the outcome, but fans and pundits have been quick to voice their opinion on the matter, with the majority using the ‘if it’s not broke, don’t fix it’ cliche.

Last season Manchester City conceded the fewest number of goals in the country playing with a flat back four. Mancini’s attempt to tinker with the formation has seen the champions struggle, managing just one clean sheet all season and has played a large part in their Champions League predicament.

Micah Richards post match interview with Geoff Shreeves did little to hide the fact the players are not entirely comfortable with the new system being deployed, but I am of the opinion not everyone is looking at the bigger picture.

Let us not forget how far Manchester City have come in a relatively short space of time under Mancini, regardless of the amount of money spent. When the Italian coach first arrived, City were dismissed as being a defensive, dull team to watch.

Mancini has been given time to evolve the team, and sure enough last season developed them into one of the most vibrant attacking teams to watch in the Premier League, with the likes of Silva Aguero and Nasri producing sublime football time and again.

Mancini is now looking to evolve City further, by adding more strings to their bow. Hence the change in formations and personnel. There are sure to be mistakes along the way, but ultimately I can see it being positive for Manchester City in the future.

Before the critics go for City’s throat, we should not forget it often takes time to adapt to European competition at the highest level, and the fact City have been thrown into a group of death should also be taken into account.

They gave Real Madrid a great game at the Bernabeu last month, which is what makes their last two performances in the competition all the more surprising.

Their neighbours Manchester United struggled on their entry to Europe’s elite competition, a fact Mancini will look to take solace from.

There are still nine points to play for, and City know three wins from three could yet see them qualify. An outsiders chance, but City are more than capable of beating anyone with the squad they have.

An early dismissal from the competition would not be the worst thing in the world, as last season showed. It would give them more time than their rivals to focus on the Premier League and leave them fresher in the title run in.

The fact Mancini came out after the game last night and took responsibility for his sides defeat was brave, as he is now sure to take a lot of flack and have his methods heavily questioned. It is important the Italian keeps faith with his ideas as he looks to take City to that next level. His record of improving them season upon season speaks for itself.

An early Champions League exit proved to be a blessing in disguise last season, and it could yet prove to be the case once again. As City look to take the next step, fans must be patient and be reminded of the bigger picture. There are sure to be mistakes along the way, but ultimately Manchester City have too much quality for moments such as last night to occur to often.

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  • BlaDeBla
    3 years ago

    Lets be clear here , City didnt lose to Ajax coz of a system change or Managerial blunders , they lost to the better TEAM on the night , its as simple as that .

    What contributed to the creation of that fact can be discussed & that has been happening all throughout Europe & as a result of his blunders on the night Mancini & therefore Man City are a laughing stock .

    Not because he used a 5-3-2 or changed his system to a 5-3-2 because as the saying goes “It aint what you do , its the way that you do it” .

    City were 2-1 down in a game they had to win so in steps Mancini with the biggest managerial blunder I have ever seen at any level of organized football .
    Limited to 3 substitutes he decides that to get back into the game City needed to remove a big robust CB & bring on a LB in a reshuffle that meant that the small weak LB already on the pitch was moved into the centre of defense to play as a 3’rd CB .

    Barry ,was already on the pitch & played half of his Villa career as a CB & was capped for England as a LB but instead Mancini thought he should take off a defender & bring on a defender to change the formation & not bring on an attacker & move Barry into the back line .

    Traditional thinking or should I say sane sensible thinking says that was a waste of a substitution given the depth of attacking quality he had on the bench during a game they had to win .

    Thats bad enough & he deserves the ridicule he is getting throughout Europe but to make matters worse he then decides to change it back to a 4-4-2 within 5 minutes & guess what ?

    Thats right , he used another substitution to do it !

    So within 5 minutes of wasting a substitution he wastes another & apologetically revises his decision & reverts to a 4-4-2 .

    The world at this stage isnt just questioning his managerial ability , they are questioning his sobriety !

    You say that its to his credit that after the game he accepted responsibility but in reality he didnt .

    He disgraced himself & claimed he didnt prepare them properly , he then turned around & claimed that regardless of the system they were asked to play they should have been able to play it …. even though he gave them less than 5 minutes to implement his tactical masterplan !

    Mancini is a clown & the secret is out .

    Its the no nonsense David Platt holding them together behind the scenes .

    Man City disrespected Ajax on the night & Ajax rammed it back down their throats , its as simple as that .

    City thought all they had to do was turn up & boast about their overhyped players & their over inflated price tags & then the Champions of Holland would roll over for them in their own back yard like 99% of English clubs politely do for them but sadly for them on this occasion that didn’t happen , Ajax put up a great performance & gave them a footballing lesson in teamwork , tactics , possession , guts , composure & execution .

    The only way City are gonna get outa that group is the same way they won the Premier League & that is to BRIBE their way .