Vieira up to the task – Mancini
Roberto Mancini has rejected the idea that Patrick Vieira’s legs have gone and claims the Frenchman’s World Cup dream can help Manchester City.
A month after his arrival from Inter Milan, Vieira is set to make his Blues debut at Hull on Saturday.
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," countered 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 over the next three or four months.
"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, who joined from Middlesbrough on deadline day for £6million.
"I have experienced European football with Middlesbrough and I will be striving for the chance to repeat it here," said the 22-year-old.
"When you look at the quality inside our dressing room, I believe it is as good as anyone in the Premier League.
"Manchester City is a club that is going places, which is why it was not a difficult choice to leave Boro, even though it was a wrench to leave somewhere I had been since I was 12."
In effect, Johnson has replaced Robinho in the City squad, although, as the unsettled Brazilian found out before his departure for Santos last week, Mancini will choose his starting line-ups on performance not reputation.
His choice of captain is already made. While Shay Given did a solid job during the recent African Nations Cup and Gareth Barry wore the armband at Aston Villa, Mancini is content to stick with Kolo Toure, who was Mark Hughes’ choice at the start of the season.
"I want my team to have many captains out on the pitch, but only one player can wear the captain’s armband – and that is Kolo," said Mancini.
"He is a very important player for us and a very good leader so I am very happy for him to continue."