Lescott: We need to dodge Barca

BY foxsports • June 2, 2011

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."