October 27, 2012
Mancini - Top players must be flexible
Team Stat Comparison
|Manchester City||Swansea City|
|Goals for *||2.2||1.0|
|Goals against *||0.8||1.3|
|Last 5 home||L-W-W-W-W||L-D-D-L-L|
|Last 5 away||W-D-L-W-L||L-W-L-D-L|
|* Goals per match - home matches for home club and away matches for away club|
|Stats: Manchester City | Swansea City|
Roberto Mancini has rejected any criticism of his three-man defence initiative and claimed if anyone cannot handle it they are not good enough to play for Manchester City.
The City boss held his hands up for his failure in preparation ahead of Wednesday night's shock 3-1 Champions League defeat to Ajax in Amsterdam and wants a response when Swansea visit the Etihad on Saturday.
He still accepts responsibility for a result that leaves the Blues requiring a "miracle'' to avoid tumbling out at the group stage for the second successive season.
However, what he will not acknowledge is any weakness in formation.
Having toyed with three at the back at various times during the current campaign, Mancini did again in midweek as he desperately sought a way back into the contest.
The move had catastrophic consequences, leaving substituted Joleon Lescott fuming, Gael Clichy appealing for guidance about exactly where he was supposed to be playing, City conceding a third goal and Micah Richards conducting a post-match interview where he confirmed his team-mates were ill at ease with the tactical switch.
Mancini claimed Richards' comments were "not important''.
However, his assessment of the situation left little room for argument.
"Good players should be able to play in any system,'' said Mancini.
"If you are a top player, the system is not important. If you don't understand you are not a top player and you cannot play for a top team.
If the Italian is to be believed, he has used the system far more than anyone previously thought.
"In pre-season we only had 10 senior players,'' he said.
"But I wasn't changing anything. It is difficult to watch from the stand when we change the system but we have used this a lot of times during games last season, a minimum of 50 times.
"We were 2-1 down and we wanted to improve the situation.
"With this system we beat Chelsea 3-2 in the Community Shield. With this system we recovered from 3-0 down against United, got back to 3-2 and had a chance to draw with only 10 players.
"With this system we have changed the result every time.''
Swansea head to the Etihad Stadium on the back of last weekend's morale-boosting win over Wigan, but will face a City side desperate to respond.
However, Wayne Routledge believes the Dutch team's 3-1 victory shows there is nothing to fear for the visitors going into a game few expect them to get a positive result from, although he is under no illusion about the size of the challenge facing the Swans.
He said: "The Etihad has become something of a fortress for them there, but we've got to go there in a positive frame of mind.
"As footballers, they're in the higher echelons but sometimes you have games when it doesn't click.
"That seems to be what happened the other night, it wasn't the usual Manchester City.
"But when you play Manchester City whatever they do it's going to be a really hard game on Saturday. We have to get our minds right and be ready from the start.''
The game will see Swansea face Scott Sinclair for the first time since the winger left the Liberty Stadium to join Roberto Mancini's side in August.
But Routledge, who has benefited from Sinclair's move, insists the Swansea squad do not hold a grudge against him for moving on.
He said: "People get on well here and we all wish each other the best. Scott had a chance to go and join the champions and he took that opportunity.
"I haven't spoken to Scott for a little while because he's had a lot to do up there, he's moving, but I'm sure we'll catch up on Saturday.
"Obviously I knew in the summer that gave me the chance to work hard in pre-season and hopefully get a chance in the team.
"I've done that and it's going well.''