Roberto Mancini is facing fresh mutiny from his Manchester City squad over his defensive tactics which were instrumental in the Citizens' Champions League loss to Ajax.
The Daily Mirror says the Italian hauled his players into City's Carrington training base on Thursday morning despite their red eye flight back from Holland to hold an inquest into the disastrous defeat.
City, who Mancini confessed need a 'miracle' to qualify for the last 16 of the tournament, reverted from a flexible 4-3-3 to 4-4-2 and finally the much-maligned 3-5-2 as they went down 3-1 in Amsterdam.
Whereas Borussia Dortmund were thwarted by Joe Hart and emerged with a 1-1 draw despite dominating at Eastlands in the second group stage match, Ajax capitalised on City's switch to 3-5-2 to double their lead via a Christian Eriksen strike. When Joleon Lescott - culpable for Niklas Moisander's headed goal - was hauled off, left-back Gaël Clichy appeared confused and irked by City's new formation. Aptly, it was the Frenchman who deflected Eriksen's clincher past Hart.
Lescott, substituted during the game, said he and his team-mates were not "overly enthusiastic" about the three-man defence Mancini had opted for while right-back Micah Richards told Sky Sports immediately after the game he preferred 4-4-2.
City were well beaten in Amsterdam
In addition to the self-combustion of Mancini's tactics are new reservations over his infamous autocratic approach to managing the Premier League champions. Several City players are understood to have qualms about his response to Hart opining the Citizens "only had themselves to blame" after last month's 3-2 defeat to Real Madrid, as he became the latest Blues player to be publicly chastised by his coach.
Those providing live television coverage have also exacerbated the tension between Mancini and some of his squad members. Both ITV and Sky have swiftly interviewed City players - Hart and Richards - after losses in the Champions League this season ahead of facing Mancini, armed with candid ammunition courtesy of one of his players.
Since he arrived in Manchester in December 2009 Mancini has had several disputes with players. Craig Bellamy, Carlos Tévez and Mario Balotelli are just three individuals who have been rebuked by the FA Cup and Premier League-winning manager. And now that some of his players are declaring their unhappiness with his tinkering, Mancini is unlikely to countenance being undermined.
Elimination in December for a second straight year will also raise more questions about Mancini's Champions League pedigree. His resignation from Internazionale in 2008 was owed greatly to the team underachieving in the competition and City can now only take a maximum of 10 points - the same total they tallied last year.
City face Swansea on Saturday and will ascend to second in the table if they win, with Chelsea and Manchester United - currently occupying the top two spots - playing one another on Sunday.
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