Platt backing for Zabaleta
Manchester City assistant manager David Platt insists there is no better right-back in the Premier League than Pablo Zabaleta.
The popular Argentina star has been the model of consistency in a season of fluctuating fortunes for City this term. Cheekily, Platt responded to the comparison with Denis Irwin, whom Sir Alex Ferguson said gave him an eight-out-of-10 performance every week by claiming Zabaleta deserved eight-and-a-half this season.
"There hasn't been a better right-back this season," said Platt.
"You can't have 11 masterchefs. All sorts of things go into producing a performance and Pablo's reliability to produce very high level performances is a welcome thing. There is no worry whatsoever that he can't cope.
"Often we get David Silva and Samir Nasri roaming infield. Invariably, that means our full-backs are exposed one versus one. They never complain because they have belief in their own ability. You must have full-backs who are willing to accept that."
Zabaleta is very much like Irwin in his refusal to be swept along by all the plaudits. For the former Espanyol man, the team is the important thing, which is probably why he shifts around so uncomfortably when informed what Platt has said.
"I am really happy people are saying good things but I am just working hard and doing my best for the team," he said. "Probably this season has been one of my best since I signed for Manchester City. I have been a regular player. To do that I have had to step up my game.
"But always when you have good players around you it makes you a better player and when I look at the team, I see fantastic players. I don't really like to just talk about my situation, though. I always think about the whole team. I just want to do my job."
A top-two finish, something City have achieved only seven times in their history, and an FA Cup win over Wigan at Wembley on May 11 would, in Zabaleta's eyes, represent a season of success.
"Now the title has gone, we have an important game at Wembley," said Zabaleta. "It is important to keep winning trophies and the FA Cup is massive in England. We need to keep the momentum, keep focused and concentrate."