Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini is adamant top players should be able to fit into any system - and insisted only weak teams would collapse after one defeat.
City's Champions League hopes are hanging by a thread after a chaotic encounter with Ajax in Amsterdam on Wednesday, which the Blues lost, despite taking the lead, amid recriminations over Mancini's formation.
With his side losing 2-1, Mancini hauled off Joleon Lescott to play three defenders, and they immediately conceded again.
In his post-match interview Micah Richards claimed his team-mates did not like the system and indicated it was being used under orders from Mancini but under sufferance from the players.
"If you are a top player it is not important what system you use," said Mancini today.
"If you don't understand a system like that, you cannot play for a top team.
"What Micah said is not important. He answered a question. I understand people want to write about it, but to me it doesn't matter.
"Maybe Micah doesn't know because it his first game for two and a half months."
City must now win their final three games to stand any chance of reaching the knock-out stages.
Mancini has described that as being a "miracle" scenario.
However, he does not feel it is a time to just give up.
"This is an important season for us," he said.
"If we allow one defeat to alter that we would be really weak.
"Strong teams can lose a game but it is important you understand the reasons, and what mistakes were made.
"You can learn from this and improve for the next game."
Mancini confirmed Pablo Zabaleta would miss tomorrow evening's encounter with Swansea after suffering a hamstring injury during the international break.
David Silva, Javi Garcia, Maicon and Jack Rodwell remain on the injured list.
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