Mancini says Vieira's World Cup goal can drive City's Euro ambition
Published 06/02/2010 | 05:00
Roberto Mancini has dismissed the theory that Patrick Vieira's legs have gone -- and insisted the Frenchman's World Cup dream can propel Manchester City into the Champions League.
A month after his arrival from Inter Milan, Vieira is set to make his Blues debut at Hull today. The calf injury Vieira sustained in his final game for Inter proved more difficult to recover from than Mancini first thought.
In the meantime, City have encountered two games -- at Everton and Manchester United -- that proved exactly why Mancini wanted to be reunited with the 33-year-old despite all the doubters who claim Vieira is a spent force.
"I don't think so," said Mancini. "I know Patrick wants to go to the World Cup and for this reason alone I feel he can be very important for us.
"He is a big player, both on the pitch and in the mind. We lost two games recently, against Everton and Manchester United. They were both very different games and at Everton I felt we were tired.
"But Patrick is so experienced maybe we would not have lost those games if he had been in the team."
Vieira can no longer be expected to produce lung-bursting runs from midfield. Instead he will be asked to screen City's defence, which will be bolstered by the return of Wayne Bridge at the KC Stadium.
Bridge will grab plenty of attention but Joleon Lescott's presence on the substitutes' bench is equally significant for City as they try to exploit their present position as favourites to claim that lucrative fourth spot, which many believe is the minimum requirement for Mancini to stay in his job beyond the summer.
That is certainly the target for another City new boy, Adam Johnson, bought on deadline day for £6m. "I have experienced European football with Middlesbrough and I will be striving for the chance to repeat it here," he said. "When you look at the quality inside our dressing room, I believe it is as good as anyone in the Premier League."