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.”