x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Patrick Vieira wary of United backlash

Manchester City's Patrick Vieira believes neighbours United will come back with a vengeance after last week's first defeat of the season against Wolverhampton Wanderers and he believes City must go on the attack at Old Trafford.

Patrick Vieira has respect for Paul Scholes, right, and the recently retired Gary Neville.
Patrick Vieira has respect for Paul Scholes, right, and the recently retired Gary Neville.

Patrick Vieira has warned his Manchester City teammates to expect a backlash when they travel to Old Trafford tomorrow to meet Manchester United.

It will be Sir Alex Ferguson's side's first match since surrendering their unbeaten record to bottom-of-the-table Wolverhampton Wanderers last Saturday.

Vieira, who was part of Arsenal's "Invincibles" side of 2003/04, said he is pleased the Gunners remain the only side to have gone an entire season undefeated, but knows how it feels to eventually lose after a long unbeaten run.

He is aware United - and Sir Alex - will be looking to regain momentum in their chase for a record 19th top-flight title.

"We must expect a backlash and a battle," Vieira said. "Big clubs like United, they always talk about the importance of never losing two times in a row, so they will want to bounce back to winning ways immediately.

"But, of course, we will want to win, too, so it will be an interesting game."

The Frenchman, 34, refused to concede Roberto Mancini, the City coach, was too defensive against Arsenal at the Emirates last month when the two teams played out a dire advertisement for the beautiful game that ended goalless.

Vieira chose instead to focus on the team's rearguard.

"Yes, it was quite defensive, but we showed we can defend as a team - from the strikers right through to the goalkeeper," he said.

This time though, he thinks City must attack if they have any hope of derailing United's Premier League title hopes.

"When you look at the players we have, we have to go to United and try to win the game. There is no team in the league that cannot be beaten, so I was not surprised [they lost].

"But to have a chance to beat United, you have to play your own game against them. You have to score.

"There is no point going to Old Trafford and saying, 'OK, we are going to defend for 90 minutes,' because it won't happen; they will score against you.

"But if you go and say, 'OK, we will score,' then we have a chance to win the game."

The deference the former Inter Milan midfielder shows United is to be expected, but few would expect the man who was dismissed 10 times in nine years at Arsenal to be ready to bury any hatchets with his long-time rivals.

Vieira was involved in one of the Premier League's most infamous incidents, when, in 2005, he was involved in a fight with both Gary Neville and Roy Keane in the Highbury tunnel before Arsenal's crunch match with their title rivals.

Yet now, with Keane having gone into management and Neville last week announcing his immediate retirement from professional football, Vieira said he has nothing but admiration for the two players - as footballers.

"[Ryan] Giggs, [Paul] Scholes and Keane; this generation was one of the best," Vieira said.

And Neville?

"I think, as a footballer, he had a fantastic career.

"I respect him because he had been at United his whole career and he won trophies and was a permanent fixture in the starting XI.

"Yes, I had a problem with him, but I had a problem with a lot of players.

"Football-wise though: you have to give him respect for what he did.

"He is a fantastic role model for the young players."

While Neville will not be involved in tomorrow's match, Vieira still harbours hopes of his own involvement.

However, he accepts that with such a young and talented squad, opportunities are becoming rarer - a fact that could see him hang up his boots at the end of the season.

"I have six months left and am enjoying my football," he said. "But I have to be realistic

"I'll be 35 next season and I know it will hard to play every game in the season. I have to see if I am willing to accept playing only one or two games every three or four months."