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Oct 25, 2012

Roberto Mancini: 'It is my fault'

Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini said it would take a "miracle" for his team to reach the Champions League knockout stages after Wednesday's costly 3-1 defeat at Ajax.

Ajax came from behind to stun the Premier League champions after goals from Siem de Jong, Niklas Moisander and Christian Eriksen on Wednesday, leaving the English club last in Group D of the Champions League.

Borussia Dortmund leads the group with seven points after beating Real Madrid 2-1 in the other game. Madrid is a point back. Ajax is next with three points, two ahead of Man City.

"It is very difficult to qualify now," Mancini said. "It would be a miracle."

City next face Ajax again at the Etihad Stadium in a fortnight before hosting Real Madrid and then travelling to Borussia Dortmund.

Mancini blamed himself for the loss in the game's immediate aftermath, but that said was down to his preparations and not his tactical changes during the second half.

"It is my fault. I didn't prepare well for the game and I take the blame," he told reporters. "I thought in one way and it was different. When you prepare in one way and it is a different game, it is difficult.

"We had more chances to score and in the Champions League you need to score. It is my fault, I repeat."

Ajax were considered the weakest of the four domestic champions in the tough-looking group but they looked anything but as they dominated from the outset against City.

"If you have spirit you have quality to play Champions League. If not, you can't. This is the problem," Mancini said. "It is not important, the tactics. When you play this game you should have good spirit. We are a young club for the Champions League. This is the second time that we play. I think we need to work more for the Champions League."

Despite his team's collective inexperience in the competition, Mancini accepts they should have performed better.

"At this moment we have three or four good players injured and they are used to playing Champions League every year," Mancini said. "But this doesn't change anything. We should play better than this. When you lose an important game like this, and the group is only six games, we don't have time to recover in the Champions League. We need to put everything on the pitch.

"Now it is very difficult. We have one point and I think we have a five percent chance," he said. "We need to win all the games and I don't know if this is possible if we play like this. I am always positive but now it is difficult for the qualification."

Mancini was criticized for varying his formations during the game, particularly for starting with a four-man defense but switching to three or five and back again.

The role of James Milner, who started as a holding midfielder, also changed. But the most remarkable formation alteration saw the game end with a four-pronged, and expensive, attacking line of Carlos Tevez, Mario Balotelli, Edin Dzeko and Sergio Aguero.

The changes failed to provide the spark City needed but the visitors did have some good opportunities with Micah Richards and Dzeko both working goalkeeper Kenneth Vermeer.

"We started the second half quite brightly, I thought, but they got the goal from the set-piece and from then it didn't quite happen for us," Milner told City TV. "Although the score was 3-1 we had enough chances to score more goals, but we weren't clinical enough. We need to make sure there is not pressure on the strikers to score in every game. Goals have got to come from all over the park. When you are playing in the Champions League and you get chances you have to take them."

Information from The Associated Press and Press Association was used in this report.

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