Manchester City need to improve on their set pieces if they are to beat Tottenham in Sunday’s game at the Etihad Stadium.

Curbishley also believes City boss Roberto Mancini is under pressure this season following the Citizens’ poor defensive performances in the Champions League, drawing attention to the use of the Italian coach’s 5-3-2 system, not to mention the recent arrival of Txiki Bergiristain as Director of Football, which has affected Mancini’s power-base at the club.

“I think there is tension going on at Manchester City at the moment. Last week we had a press conference where he [Mancini] snapped a little bit,” Curblishley told Sky Sports News.

“I just think he’s going in the game a little bit under pressure.”

In regards to the 5-3-2 system, Curbishley told Sky Sports News that it simply hadn’t worked for City.

“Some of the tactics used, especially in Champions League games – They’ve ended up conceding goals.

“Against Real Madrid he went five at the back and I don’t think the players were accustomed to it. They used five at the back again against Dortmund and came unstuck.”

The manager-come-pundit believes one of City’s weaknesses this campaign has been at defending set pieces, which Curbishley puts down to Mancini’s use of the zonal marking system.

“They’re struggling with set plays, quite a few have gone in – in the Champions League and the Premier League.

“One of the reasons is they’re defending zonal.

“When you’re marking zonal, you’re asking the four players on the six yard box to attack the delivery. So when the ball comes into your space you attack it, and not mark man for man.

“But at the moment City are doing neither, they’re not attacking the ball or marking the man.

“They’re being flat footed and not aggressive enough.”

Turning his attention to Sunday’s clash with Tottenham, Curbishley told reporters: “I think Mancini will have to rethink how he’s setting up at set plays.

“Tottenham will notice it as well; they are an important part of the game,” he added.

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