Roberto Mancini says a lack of collective experience is to blame for Manchester City’s poor performances in the Champions League.
City have lost two and drawn one of their first three matches in Group D of the competition, and look set to bow out at the group stage for the second year in succession.
On Tuesday they host Ajax at Etihad Stadium and must collect all three points to have any chance of catching leaders Borussia Dortmund and second-placed Real Madrid.
“Probably we need more experience as a club, as a team – not as players, because we have players who have played in the Champions League many times,” Mancini said.
“We need this and also sometimes you should also be lucky because if you take every year the worst group – because the group is really difficult.”
City midfielder Gareth Barry also highlighted the lack of familiarity between some players at club when compared with their opponents.
“As a group of players we’ve not been together year after year after year, whereas other clubs have,” Barry said.
“This group of players has been
together two years and maybe you can look into that a little bit but we’re certainly not using that as the main excuse.
“As I’ve said, my reason for the Champions League (results) is we’ve not performed to the best of our abilities and we’ve been found out.”
While all the focus has been on City’s attempts to revive their campaign, Ajax coach Frank de Boer also had designs on progressing to the knockout stage.
After beating City on matchday three, Ajax are third in the group, one point behind Real and four back from Dortmund.
“We can also win, and then the coin is on our side,” he said.
“And that we have to believe. I think we did it, we showed it last year when we played Manchester United here, and I think this group (of players) already prove already that they can,” he added, referring to Ajax’s 2-1 win away to City’s neighbours in the Europa League last season.
“And I’m not worried that they really believe it.”