Richards gives Mancini the credit

Published Dec. 20, 2010 3:42 p.m. ET

Manchester City defender Micah Richards has regained his focus and form during manager Roberto Mancini's first year in charge.

That result would see City go top of the table, a measure of their progress under Mancini, who replaced Mark Hughes in the run-up to Christmas.

They are on course for a place in the Champions League, having already secured a spot of the Europa League's round of 32 with Aris Salonika their next opponents.

Richards, who skippered the side in the draw with Juventus in midweek, said: "I enjoy playing football but it went a bit sour under Mark Hughes. Not because of him, I only blame myself for that.

"Roberto Mancini has given me a lot of confidence. I'm back in the England team and hopefully I can continue to play well.

"I was chuffed to be captain against Juventus - I was honoured that he chose me."

Richards claims City have reasons to be cheerful going into the second half of the season with Mancini.


"We always said, give him time and he would produce the goods. He's come in last year, changed the club around and he's done ever so well. We are getting good results.

"He's happy, the players are happy and we're just looking forward to the future. We're all excited about what we can achieve together."

Even though Everton are struggling to win games, Richards expects a stiff test of the team's credentials.

He said: "They are down the league but when they come to us, they always seem to do well and win. I think it was this time last year, they started putting points on the board.

"So we've just got to be careful, don't get too excited and just go into the game 100% focused. Hopefully if we do that, we can get the three points.

"It will be nice to concentrate on the league now. Sometimes it's hard playing Sunday-Thursday-Sunday but that schedule is out of the way for the time being."