Lescott: We need to dodge Barca

Lescott sat watching the Champions League final on Saturday and
swiftly came to a conclusion: if City draw Barcelona in next
season’s competition, someone else will get the job of marking
Lionel Messi. City have secured direct qualification into Europe’s
most prestigious club competition. It will be their first
appearance at that level of the game since 1968 and the rules have
changed somewhat. Instead of a two-legged tie, which they lost to
Fenerbahce all those years ago, City will be pitched into a
four-team group. And, because of their relatively lowly seeding, it
could mean a meeting with Barca’s team of stars, who shone so
brightly at Wembley this weekend. “We need to stay away from them,”
warned Lescott. “I went to the game and they were pretty good,
probably the best team I have seen. “If we have to play them in the
group stages I will pass Messi onto Nigel de Jong or Vincent
Kompany.” The fact Lescott can even talk in such terms is
justification for his decision to quit Everton for City two seasons
ago. Former manager Mark Hughes raised a few eyebrows when he
agreed to cough up £22million for the former Wolves star. It
did appear at the start of this season Lescott did not appeal to
Roberto Mancini’s tastes as his sporadic first-team appearances
tended to be at left-back. However, Kolo Toure’s failed drugs test
earned Lescott an unexpected opening and his partnership with
Kompany proved to be one of the major reasons why City ended up
fulfilling all their pre-season goals. “It was a massive season for
us,” he said. “To get into the FA Cup semi-final, beat Manchester
United and then win the final speaks for itself. “At Everton we
were not expected to win the league. At City we are and it is
something we believe can be done. “We can take confidence from what
we have achieved so far. Opposition teams will have to be more
fearful when they play us.” Not that Lescott is resting on his
laurels. He knows only too well that Mancini wants to recruit more
players, some of whom he may end up competing with for a place in
the Blues starting line-up. He said: “To progress, the club will
need to buy players. If one of them is a central defender, I will
have to fight for my position. “I was confident I would play last
season and it would just be the same again.” There is a spin-off
for Lescott this week in that there are similarities between
Mancini’s approach and that of fellow Italian Fabio Capello. It may
not be enough to earn Lescott a starting berth ahead of Rio
Ferdinand or John Terry when England tackle Switzerland in their
Euro 2012 qualifier at Wembley on Saturday. However, it should
assist in the increasingly congested battle to be the main back-up
in case either of that first-choice duo are absent. “It is
helpful,” said Lescott. “Certain tactics are quite similar. They
both focus on defending. “Defenders are expected to stay tight to
strikers in the box whereas growing up in the Premier League and
the Championship, it is more zonal marking.” Lescott is benefiting
from the experience, as he is certain will happen should he play an
integral role in City’s first Champions League campaign, having
seen the way it has advanced Michael Dawson’s career. He said:
“Michael played in it this season and he was straight in there, so
if I play in the Champions League next season, hopefully I will get
the same opportunities.”