Mancini defends tactical tinkering
Roberto Mancini has insisted his controversial tactic of playing with a back three is not the problem at Manchester City and said his players have had plenty of practice in the new formation.
City switched from a four-man to a three-man defence during Wednesday's Champions League defeat to Ajax, only for the Dutch champions to score their third goal and clinch victory.
And in a post-match interview, Micah Richards suggested the players were happier with a back four, their regular system when they won the Premier League and had the division's best defensive record last season, and said he had little experience of operating in a trio.
But Mancini said: "For me, it is not important what Micah said. We work every day at tactical situations and all the players know this system. We did not concede the third goal because we change a system, we concede because we made a stupid mistake, one versus one."
Mancini has been criticised for forever changing tactics, but he was adamant it was an attacking and a necessary step.
He added: "When you are losing 2-1 away [from home], the manager should do something from the bench and we change, because they play with only one striker and we wanted more players offensively."
And a defiant Mancini is adamant his side can get results with a back three. It is a system City used in the Community Shield win over Chelsea, the Premier League draw at Liverpool and the Capital One Cup defeat to Aston Villa.
But the Italian pointed out that he has also changed the shape during the course of several games even if Richards, who missed the start of the season because he was injured playing for Great Britain's Olympic team, has spent less time in a back three than many of his team-mates.
Mancini explained: "With the system we beat Chelsea 3-2 in the Charity Shield. With this system we recover from 3-0 to 3-2 with one player less against Manchester United last year [after Vincent Kompany's sending off].
"With this system, every time we change the result. Maybe Micah doesn't know this because it is the first game for him after he was out for two months. Probably he has worked less than the other players but maybe the next time when we play this system, he will understand it better.
"I repeat, this system we played a minimum of 15 times last year. It is not a new system."
And Mancini believes top-quality footballers should be able to react to a change in shape. "Good players, yes," he said. "If you are a top player it's not important what system you use. If you don't understand you're not a top player and you can't play for a top team."
Meanwhile, City will be without six players for the visit of Swansea on Saturday, but Mancini has said Yaya Toure will be fit to face Michael Laudrup's side.
James Milner serves a one-game ban after his red card at West Bromwich Albion last Saturday while Javi Garcia is still out with the thigh problem he sustained in the Champions League draw against Borussia Dortmund.
David Silva and Jack Rodwell are both suffering from hamstring injuries sustained on international duty.
And two of City's three right-backs are also unavailable with Pablo Zabaleta also hamstrung and Maicon, who has not featured since the 3-2 defeat to Real Madrid on September 18, still out. But Mancini said: "Yaya is ok."