Big Sam backing 'colossus' Vieira to be big hit for City
Published 11/01/2010 | 05:00
Sam Allardyce has credited Roberto Mancini with pulling off a transfer coup by luring Patrick Vieira to Manchester City, insisting the former Arsenal captain can still be a force in the Premier League.
Vieira, a free transfer from Inter Milan, is expected to overcome a calf injury and make his City debut against Blackburn at Eastlands tonight.
The 33-year-old midfielder has already dismissed claims from former Arsenal team-mates Lee Dixon and Nigel Winterburn that he will be unable to cope with the physical demands of the Premier League after almost five years in Italy with Juventus and Inter.
Blackburn manager Allardyce believes that Vieira's self-confidence is justified, and he expects the Frenchman to be a major influence at City.
"Vieira is a big player for Manchester City to be signing," he said. "He will add a lot to their squad."
"Vieira was a colossus in his time over here at Arsenal and, contrary to what they might think, they have never replaced him because of his all-round game.
"He could mix any type of game to be coming out the man on top. If you wanted a battle, he'd have a battle with you. If it came down to a physical test, he'd be physically better than most players.
"His ability made him a great all-round player. Then there's his size: his heading ability in both boxes was a massive contribution for Arsenal.
"In the early days, you'd look at the size of the Arsenal team, including Vieira, that you were lining up against and it used to scare the living daylights out of you."
Blackburn midfielder Steven N'Zonzi has earned comparisons to Vieira since arriving at Ewood Park in a £400,000 move from French second division club Amiens last summer, but the 21 year-old insists he will be not be overawed by the prospect of facing his idol.
N'Zonzi said: "It is true that Vieira was a hero of mine when I was young and when he won the World Cup with France in 1998. I watched him on TV and I remember thinking I would like to play like him, but I won't be star-struck if he plays against me for City.
"When I am on the pitch, I don't look if it's Patrick Vieira or Carlos Tevez. I concentrate on my own game and try and help my team win."
City manager Mancini, who is hoping to restore Shaun Wright-Phillips and Roque Santa Cruz to his starting line-up, has dismissed suggestions that he will hand the captaincy to Vieira. However, he says that the experience and winning mentality of his new signing will be a crucial addition to the squad.
Mancini said: "I know Patrick very well from our time together at Inter and our squad needs a player like Patrick Vieira. He won a lot of trophies with me at Inter and he wants to continue to do that at City. He can be a regular player and he can help the team improve its performances.
"He is an important player and somebody like him can help us arrive in the top four this season.
"Blackburn will be a tough game for us, though, because they are a good team with an important manager. To win, we will have to be at our best." (© Daily Telegraph, London)
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