Roberto Mancini has strongly denied accusations that English Premier League champions Manchester City are in crisis, with the Italian saying he deserved "respect" for his work at the club.

City have scored half as many goals at this stage in the league as they did at this point last term and trail leaders Manchester United by two points, while they are staring down the barrel of a second successive European Champions League group stage exit.

The club have yet to win in this season's competition, with just a solitary point gained from their opening three group games - a home draw with Germany's Borussia Dortmund - ahead of Tuesday's visit of Dutch giants Ajax to Eastlands.

Speculation

Meanwhile the arrival last week of Spaniard Txiki Begiristain as City's director of football strengthened a Barcelona connection which began when City made Ferran Soriano their chief executive.

Inevitably, it also led to speculation Pep Guardiola, currently taking a year out of the game after phenomenal success at the Camp Nou, was being lined up to replace Mancini.

Reports in the British press last week suggested Mancini had been close to joining Monaco towards the end of last season when City trailed United in the race for the title.

But he insisted Monday he was going nowhere and pointed to three trophies in two years - the Premier League title, the FA Cup and the Community Shield - as proof he was repaying the lavish investment by the club's Abu Dhabi-based owners.

"I don't understand why you continue to ask me (about a move). Why? This is finished. I stay here because I work here. We won three trophies in two years.

"I am polite because I answered your questions. Every year I can have two or three new situations where I can go. When you have a new team, the strong work is the first two years," Mancini added.

"We won three trophies in two years, you should have respect for this, for me, for the club."

‘Bad luck’

Mancini is set to be without several players for the visit of Dutch champions Ajax, with Joleon Lescott, Micah Richards, James Milner, Jack Rodwell, David Silva and Maicon all expected to miss out through injury.

The manager bemoaned his side's bad luck so far this season with injuries and a difficult draw ahead of the game with four-times European champions Ajax, which is a must-win game for City if they are to qualify for the last 16.

"We have this problem with some important players injured but when you have this problem, it is a time that all the players can put more on the pitch.

"This is the last chance for us.

"For us, it is the second year in Champions League. Probably we need more experience as a club, as a team, not as players because we have players who have played in the Champions League many times. "

-Roberto Mancini

"For us, it is the second year in Champions League. Probably we need more experience as a club, as a team, not as players because we have players who have played in the Champions League many times.

"Also, sometimes you should be lucky because every year the group is very difficult. Also, we did some mistakes against Madrid and Ajax."

City midfielder Gareth Barry said the club had been found out with their below-par showings so far in this term's Champions League but the England international insisted it was not too late to turn things around.

"We are finding it tough to put our finger on why we have not performed," Barry said. "We have not produced our best performances."

However, Barry insisted: "As a group of players we are going into this game believing we can win and that we can win the Champions League. The manager has given us belief that we can go through."

Source: AFP