Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini has taken the blame for his team’s 3-1 loss to Ajax in the Champions League on Wednesday.
The English champions took the lead against the run of play in the first half at the Amsterdam Arena through Samir Nasri, but were brought back to level terms on the stroke of half-time by Siem de Jong’s goal.
Mancini decided to switch to a 3-5-2 formation early in the second half following Niklas Moisander’s headed goal, but City conceded again 11 minutes later through Christian Eriksen’s deflected shot.
“I think that (Ajax) played better than us,” Mancini told Sky Sports.
“They played better football. Probably it’s my fault. I didn’t prepare the players well for this game. I take the fault for this defeat.
“I (prepared) one way, it was different. For this reason (we lost). (We didn’t underestimate Ajax), but when you prepare a game, you think it could be one way, but it’s a different game.
“I think that we had more chances to score, and in Champions League you need to score, when you don’t play well. After Dortmund, I said (I knew what was wrong), but also we had a lot of players injured, but it’s my fault and I take all this.”
However, Mancini refuted the suggestion his tactical approach was to blame for the defeat, stating that his only ploy is to “run and score”.
“We changed for five minutes when we wanted to have one player in the hole,” he said.
“We changed only for five minutes, but on the pitch we are always 11 players.
“Before we conceded two goals. I don’t think this is important. Three, four, five, six, seven. If someone wants to make this excuse, OK, but this is not important. When you play you should be strong: the tactic is one – run and score.”
Mancini went on to concede City now face an uphill battle to qualify for the competition’s knockout stages.
“I think that it is difficult (to qualify), very difficult,” he said.
“There are one team with seven (points), one with six, one with three. It should be a marathon like last year.
Ajax coach Frank De Boer was pleased his players showed what they are capable of after weathering a period of City pressure.
“I know what we are capable of,” he said.
“I think we saw a good Ajax today that wanted to show something good. We played quite good sometimes.
“City didn’t have an answer to our play. There was a difficult time for us, but we after that, we picked it up again and deserved the 2-1.”
Ajax winger Tobias Sana said his team were not getting carried away despite their impressive win over City
“We take one game at a time. Next game we focus on that game, and we need to take three points there,” he said.
“But we know our win against City is just one game. The next game will be much more difficult, so we need to play well in that game because it’s away.”