MANCHESTER, United Kingdom, October 26 – Manchester City midfielder James Milner admits the champions must bounce back from their latest disastrous European outing when they return to Premier League action at home to Swansea on Saturday.
Milner believes it is not only City’s much-maligned defenders who deserve criticism following the midweek debacle in Amsterdam where a 3-1 defeat to Ajax left Roberto Mancini’s team on the brink of Champions League elimination.
“Although the score was 3-1 we had enough chances to score more goals, but we weren’t clinical enough,” said Milner, after City competed their third Champions League group game with just one point to their name.
“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.”
Despite Milner manfully taking his share of the blame, major criticism was reserved for City’s defence and, more specifically, the shifting tactics employed by boss Mancini.
City right-back Micah Richards added fuel to suggestions that all is not well between Mancini and his senior players by suggesting they were confused by instructions passed on by the manager.
The poor result in Amsterdam and apparent disquiet in the City ranks have added to the growing belief that Mancini is under intense pressure after what appears likely to be a second successive season of failure in Europe.
The Italian himself did little to silence the growing rumours about his job security by suggesting there was a lack of team spirit in the City ranks.
“If you have spirit you have the quality to play Champions League,” he said. “If not, you can’t. This is the problem. The tactics are not important.
“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.”
City, who are unbeaten at home in the Premier League since December 2010, should be far too strong for Swansea, despite their problems in Holland, with Arsenal the only team to have taken a point from Eastlands this season.
However, Spanish playmaker David Silva remains out with a hamstring problem collected on international duty, while influential midfielder Yaya Toure suffered a shin injury against Ajax which may rule him out of the Swansea game.
Meanwhile, the Welsh club expect to give a far better showing than they did on their last visit to Eastlands on the opening day of last season when they were swept aside 4-0 on their first appearance in the Premier League.
This term, under new manager Michael Laudrup, Swansea are rebuilding after the departure of the Dane’s predecessor Brendan Rodgers to Liverpool.
“Last year going to Manchester City was a bit like a cup final for us,” said midfielder Leon Britton. “I wouldn’t say we were like a rabbit in the headlights — we played well for 60 minutes to be fair.
“But it was our first game in the Premier League, it was Monday Night Football and all of a sudden you are standing in the tunnel and Yaya Toure is next to you.
“This time a lot of us have played a season in the Premier League. A lot of us have played 40 or 45 games at this level now and we will not be overawed.
“We know it will be tough, but we will treat it as just another game.”
Laudrup has a fully-fit squad from which to select for the game, apart from long-term absentees Kyle Bartley and Neil Taylor.