x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Patrick Vieira has faith in Manchester City youngsters

The World Cup-winning midfielder with France says Manchester City must keep hold of their talented younger players if they want to dominate for years to come.

Patrick Vieira, the Manchester City midfielder, believes Roberto Mancini's side are capable of winning the title. Jamie McDonald / Getty Images
Patrick Vieira, the Manchester City midfielder, believes Roberto Mancini's side are capable of winning the title. Jamie McDonald / Getty Images

Patrick Vieira is one of only eight players in the Premier League who knows what it feels like to go through a top-flight season in England and not lose a match. He is also one of only three players to have played in a World Cup final and won. He is the only player in the league to have done both, so when he talks, people listen.

When Vieira joined Manchester City from Inter Milan last January, cynics questioned the team's need for another defensive midfielder. Roberto Mancini already had Gareth Barry, Nigel de Jong and Vincent Kompany at his disposal. But the Italian believed Vieira would bring vital leadership skills to a young side.

Having narrowly missed out on Champions League football last season after a 1-0 home defeat to Tottenham Hotspur in the race for fourth place, Mancini's side now hold loftier ambitions: the title. And Vieira believes it is the younger players, who only 12 months ago needed an experienced role model, that will ensure City do not have to live with many more disappointing days in the future.

"After the Tottenham game, there was sadness in the dressing room," Viera said. "Our target was to finish in the top four and play Champions League football and we didn't achieve that. When you do not do what you want to do there is always going to be frustration, but to finish fifth was good - people forget where City were three or four years ago.

"Myself and Shay Given are the oldest in the team though. That is why I think, if the club can keep a hold of these players for the next few years and ensure a sense of stability in the squad, City can be very successful. The club is working for the future."

Vieira revealed in an interview last month that the attitude of today's young players has dissuaded him from considering a future career in football management, but yesterday, having made an informal visit to the new Manchester City store at Marina Mall in Abu Dhabi, the 34-year-old Frenchman clarified his position.

"Young players now are more talented than they were when we were young, so they are being offered contracts earlier," he said.

"I don't know if that is a good thing or a bad thing, but young players now are not patient like my generation used to be.

"They want everything instantly because when they play one or two games well, the television and newspapers build them up and make them stars, which then becomes a problem. I try to explain to them that there is a big difference between playing at the top for one or two years and playing at the top for 15 years."

Mancini, as well as making sure his younger players remain grounded in the face of fame, must also ensure his more senior players remain content if they are not playing every game. Several of City's older squad members, such as Joleon Lescott and Emmanuel Adebayor, are said to have grown disillusioned with life among the substitutes.

Adebayor left on loan for Real Madrid last month and while Vieira admits he is unsure whether the former Arsenal striker will pull on a City shirt again, he said Edin Dzeko, the striker who joined in January for £27 million (Dh159.3m), will be a more than able replacement.

"He is settling in well," Vieira said. "In training he looks great and all he needs now is a goal to give him the confidence and self-belief. He has not managed to get that yet, but it is just a matter of time."

 

gmeenaghan@thenational.ae