Gael Clichy insists the fault for Manchester City’s Champions League exit lies more with the players than manager Pep Guardiola.
The left-back claims City deviated too much from Guardiola’s gameplan as they were beaten 3-1 in Monaco on Wednesday to exit the competition at the last-16 stage on away goals.
Guardiola has been criticised for his determination to build on the 5-3 advantage established in the first leg by attacking rather than looking to sit back.
It was an approach that was understandable given the brittle nature of City’s defence but it backfired as Monaco established complete control early on, scoring twice in the opening half-hour.
Left-back Clichy, however, felt it was the players who were to blame for not carrying out instructions.
The Frenchman said: “He never told us to play deep, so of course we have to take responsibility for that.
“Since he took over at the club his philosophy is to go forward, to press the team we’re playing, to win the ball high up the field and then pass the ball to a player who can be creative and make something happen and we just didn’t do it.
“Willy (Caballero) made a great save in the first eight minutes and I just felt that first part of the game set the momentum, and it was not for us. We tried to react but they have quality and we suffered.
“We came back strongly in the second half and could have killed the game with those three or four chances in 20 minutes but we didn’t do it.
“It’s a big disappointment. When we play like the manager wants we can create problems for any team and if we’d started the game like we did the second half it could have been different.
“But we have to look forward to Liverpool (on Sunday) now because the season is not finished. We can win something still this year so we have to believe and finish strongly.”
City put themselves back ahead in the tie with a Leroy Sane strike after 71 minutes at Stade Louis II but that was soon cancelled out by Tiemoue Bakayoko’s decisive headed winner.
Clichy denied City lacked the mental strength to complete the job.
He said: “Of course when you don’t win games people will talk and everyone has his own opinion.
“We are strong mentally but it’s never easy to come back into a game when you start like we did.”
Guardiola may have been heralded as the final piece in the jigsaw when appointed last summer but it now seems the Spaniard has a big rebuilding job on his hands.
Clichy is one of six players out of contract in the summer along with Bacary Sagna, Pablo Zabaleta, Yaya Toure, Jesus Navas and Caballero while strengthening seems likely in a number of areas.
Clichy said: “Of course people will say things but we can only concentrate on the next game.
“What’s going to happen in three months is up to the chairman, the boss and the club will carry on in his way.”