De Boer not jealous of City
Ajax coach Frank de Boer is not jealous of Manchester City's vast wealth as he prepares to do battle with the English champions.
City now find themselves among the European elite of the Champions League after a rapid rise fuelled by the millions of owner Sheikh Mansour over the past four years.
The club now have their sights set on domination and senior figures at some of the continent's biggest clubs - such as last season's opponents Bayern Munich and Napoli - have expressed their reservations about City's cash-enabled ascent. De Boer has no problem with the money but does not necessarily want such backing himself, saying he is happy with the more modest means available to him at the Dutch champions.
The former Holland defender, one of many products of the club's famed youth system, said: "They do nothing illegal, they can do that. "We have no money like that so we have to be inventive and creative and we try to use our academy to get good development of young players. That's how we survive.
"I like it more that way than just buying them, even though that's much easier. It's a philosophy. We have a different philosophy."
As four-time European champions, Ajax are one of the continent's great clubs with a pedigree in the competition that easily outweighs that of City. But with the Dutch top flight now struggling to compete with the wealthier leagues of other countries, the Amsterdam club are the outsiders in a group which also includes Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund.
After losing their opening two Group D matches, De Boer recognises the importance of the clash against Roberto Mancini's men.
The 42-year-old said: "If you want to stay in Europe after the winter break, whether in the Champions League or Europa League, we need a result tomorrow.
"We believe in it. The Real match was a poor match for us and in the Borussia Dortmund game we were unlucky. Tomorrow is different.
"Manchester City are a good team but we have a good team as well and we have faith in a good result."
Ajax go into the game on the back of a disappointing 3-3 draw with Heracles and City have not yet reproduced the form that powered them to the Premier League title last season.
But De Boer said: "Manchester City are still at the top, with a lot of players who still play for their own national teams.
"Take the four strikers together and they still cost more than the annual turnover here.
"They have proved their qualities already and no matter who is playing for them they are always a tough team to play against.
"It is always difficult to put your finger on why they are not performing as they are in the Premier League.
"Everything can change suddenly but hopefully they are not going to hit that form here."
One player who may hope to make a point to an English audience is former Liverpool forward Ryan Babel. The 25-year-old left Anfield in 2011 after failing to live up to his £11.5million price tag during his three-and-a-half years on Merseyside. His move to Hoffenheim did not work out but he is now hoping to revive his career back with his first club.
Babel said: "City have made a lot or progress and have bought a lot of good players.
"I think they are a better team than they were some years ago. They are a top team now."
When asked what he learned from his time in England, Babel said:
"To play more direct against those English teams. "If you stand still against those teams it's hard to defend.
"You have to move a lot and pass the ball well, have a lot of movements and I think that will create a good chance for us tomorrow."
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