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Vieira remains the man for the big occasion

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Chris Bevan | 07:57 UK time, Friday, 13 May 2011

Manchester City's training ground, Carrington

Manchester City midfielder Patrick Vieira may be nearing the end of his illustrious career but the bad news for Stoke City fans is that he remains a man for the big occasion.

The veteran Frenchman has undisputedly been there, seen it and won it - you cannot argue with his haul of domestic trophies in England and Italy, or his World Cup and European Championship winners' medals with France, so he can speak with authority when he talks about what ending a 35-year trophy drought would mean for City.

It is something that he mentions frequently when he does the rounds in an improvised mixed zone at City's media day ahead of Saturday's FA Cup final against the Potters, joining David Silva, Yaya Toure and, eventually, Edin Dzeko to answer questions in a temporary marquee erected on one of their training pitches at their Carrington base.

While Toure and Silva held fort on the top tables, Vieira danced around the journalists on the edge of the tent, giving the whole occasion the air of a particularly surreal wedding. Dzeko played his part in the analogy too, keeping to the tradition of such events by arriving extremely late.

Vieira (second from left) provides a wise old head in the City dressing room - photo: Getty

I followed Vieira as he made his way around the room, sometimes facing the same question in quick succession for the benefit of TV, radio or the written press. What was most telling about his thoughts on the consequences of some long awaited success for his club, was the fact they often came after he had been asked about what winning his fifth FA Cup would mean to him.

It seems that for the 34-year-old, the significance of this weekend is less about the possibility of another personal accolade, and more about the chance to help kick-start a period of success in what could be his final act for the club.

"You cannot compare it to the trophies I have won elsewhere," Vieira explained. "The Cup might not be so important for other teams or be less of an achievement than a league title, but this club has been looking forward to winning something for a long time now, and we all understand how difficult that has been for the fans.

"It is easy to forget that four or five years ago, City were fighting to stay in the Premier League. Now we have qualified for the Champions League and are in the final of the FA Cup, and that is a big step forward. It has been fantastic to be part of something like that, and Saturday is a big chance for us. The first trophy always means a lot because people always remember it.

"I think the people here are building a football club for the future. If we can win the Cup, I think it will be the start of a new era, and some really successful years."

Given he is unlikely to be around to be a part of that potentially bright future, you could understand it if Vieira had wanted to focus on adding to his own achievements. The Cup has offered him a rare chance to shine this season and, whether he starts the game or not on Saturday, the Senegal-born star has already played a big part in getting City to Wembley.

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He has only been a bit-part player in the Premier League, making a mere four starts during this entire campaign, but he has started six of City's seven FA Cup ties so far (including two replays), scoring three goals to help his side progress.

There have been other contributions to the cause too. Vieira may no longer have the legs to be the driving midfield force he once was for Arsenal but he makes up for his fading playing powers when he is off the pitch, and has been a huge influence in the dressing room. The volatile character that is Mario Balotelli was joking when he recently referred to Vieira as "my dad" but he is not the only one in City's relatively young squad to see their experienced team-mate as something of a father figure.

So, even if he always intended to use him sparingly, you can understand why Roberto Mancini brought Vieira back to the Premier League 16 months ago after seeing first-hand the influence his winning mentality had in their triumphs together at Inter Milan.

It is that lack of action which might see Vieira leave Eastlands, and indeed England, during the summer.

He is out of contract at the end of the season and, when asked if he would be staying at City, replied: "I hope so, but I don't really know. I am really proud of what I've done in my time at this club and if I am part of it next season I will be happy and excited. If not, I will be grateful and think about what happens next. We will get to a time when I have to make a decision, but it is not the time yet."

There would be a certain symmetry if Vieira were to bid farewell to the Premier League after helping City win the Cup because that was the way he signed off at Arsenal, scoring the decisive spot-kick against Manchester United in the penalty shoot-out that decided the 2005 final.

But history suggests Mancini would be well-advised to try to persuade him to continue. As Gunners fans know only too well, their side has not won a trophy since Vieira's departure, and City want Saturday to be the start of their success story, not the end.

You can follow me at Wembley on Saturday on Twitter @chrisbevan_bbc

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    205? Was it that long ago when Arsenal won something.....Feels like it!

  • Comment number 2.

    Let's hope Vieira leaves this summer!

    Stoke City to ruin Man City's party

  • Comment number 3.

    Come on the Blues!

  • Comment number 4.

    Come on Potters

  • Comment number 5.

    Nice piece Chris, Glad that you steered away from mentioning the spending and other negative comments that so often are brought up in any thing related to City.

    As a gunner fan, I agree that we let Vieira go little too soon.

  • Comment number 6.

    Vieira is a LEG-end. Offer him another 12 months, his mere presence in the changing rooms will be beneficial next year when we play CL games.

    "In Mancini we Trust"

    Come on CITY

  • Comment number 7.

    He's not the player he was (sometimes seems off the pace, poor first touch), but he arguably made his most vital contribution for City when coming on late on against Spurs on Tuesday. City were playing like headless chickens and you wondered if we would make it to the finishing line. He steadied things down, and could even have scored in conducting the orchestra and not wasting the options that Tevez coming on opened up.

    I hope Patrick picks up a winners medal tomorrow and stays with City, but in a non-playing capacity as I think we need younger legs if we're to make a sustained challenge.

  • Comment number 8.

    7. At 14:16pm 13th May 2011, Drooper_ wrote:
    He's not the player he was (sometimes seems off the pace, poor first touch), but he arguably made his most vital contribution for City when coming on late on against Spurs on Tuesday. City were playing like headless chickens and you wondered if we would make it to the finishing line. He steadied things down, and could even have scored in conducting the orchestra and not wasting the options that Tevez coming on opened up.

    I hope Patrick picks up a winners medal tomorrow and stays with City, but in a non-playing capacity as I think we need younger legs if we're to make a sustained challenge.
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Good point. He also chip in with some important FA cup goals this year.

    Did you see the Micah interview on the CITY website?

    Micah will be important tomorrow, going forward and defending.

  • Comment number 9.

    #8, yep, agree Stepford, PV's scored some vital goals, and MR's been playing this season like the Micah of old. People have mentioned Tevez missing, but I think we have also missed Micah when he's been injured. He's got us out of a few holes, e.g. he set up Dzeko's equaliser late on against Notts County, he got the winner late on against Reading. If he could find a decent cross more often from those runs to the byline he makes, then we have a devastating right back on our hands.

    I've seen the Micah interview, and I've seen the 2010/11 membership video too!

  • Comment number 10.

    I will be the first to admit I wasn't happy about the signing in the first place (final big pay cheque I though) but an excellent signing he has been and eaten my words I have. Experience is a very important asset and he has it in abundance. I'd give him another 12 months even if it's to blood the youngsters/newbies. Fantastic signing, fantastic attitude and fantastic player. Come on the Blueeeees!

  • Comment number 11.

    10. At 15:27pm 13th May 2011, swindonbluearmy wrote:
    I will be the first to admit I wasn't happy about the signing in the first place (final big pay cheque I though) but an excellent signing he has been and eaten my words I have. Experience is a very important asset and he has it in abundance. I'd give him another 12 months even if it's to blood the youngsters/newbies. Fantastic signing, fantastic attitude and fantastic player. Come on the Blueeeees!

    ----------------------------------------------------------------------

    There you have it folks. Yoda is a Man City fan. Who would have thought it?

    Anyway, come on the Blues!!!

  • Comment number 12.

    What really makes me laugh is that Viera openly wanted to join Arsenal but Wenger would not re-sign him. If he had, would we be seeing Arsenal finishing top? Would he have been the cool head to come on and calm things down when we started the almighty collapse as St James, or at the Emirates countless times this season.

    The man is a legend and really deserves to be in the Starting 11 for the final. Even though I should really hate City, I really hope they win it on the weekend.

  • Comment number 13.

    Does anyone know the odds of Yaya Dzeko to score the first goal?

  • Comment number 14.

    Come on the Stoke.
    Three quarters of Manchester are with you!

  • Comment number 15.

    Come on Stoke.
    Lets hope this proper football club beat what once was a proper football club, now masquerading as one.

  • Comment number 16.

    The media has been very disrespectful to Stoke, virtually crowning City as the cup winners as soon as they reached the final.

    I daresay almost every fan out there (Man City and Port Vale notwithstanding) is backing the Potters.

  • Comment number 17.

    15. At 16:59pm 13th May 2011, Gavelaa wrote:
    Come on Stoke.
    Lets hope this proper football club beat what once was a proper football club, now masquerading as one.
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------I'm not sue I understand your comments??

    Manchester City FC, 4th in the PL, Final of the FA Cup. Owners who care. Owners who are plowing millions into the great city of Manchester.

    A proper Football clu who cares for its fans and community. The true Manchester club.

    Gavelaa, one question??? Do you live in Manchester? If not I suggest you take a tour and take in the fantastic investment outlayed by our fantastic owners, lovely mate, Beautfiful.

    14. At 16:57pm 13th May 2011, 1878onwards wrote:
    Come on the Stoke.
    Three quarters of Manchester are with you!
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Three quarters??? Salford is not in Manchester, its a little village.

  • Comment number 18.

    Does anyone nore what the odds of Bebe playing in the 1st team at United?

    8 million quid down the toilet, along with Kleberson, Veron, Djembi Djembi, Gary Birtles??

    In Dzeko we trust, the lads a good one.

  • Comment number 19.

    Stepford Sheep.
    Salford? Why do you connect Utd with Salford?
    Old Trafford is under the control of Trafford(as is city's training ground)..as an aside,Salford gained city status before Manchester anyway!
    You mention 5 players in your post....need I list all the useless players that mighty citeh have bought these last 35yrs of abject failure?
    Or indeed when Utd loaned you Terry Cooke when your massive club were yo-yo'ing between the 3 divisions,whilst at the same time relying on respective chairmen to pay your staff's wages?
    Come on the Potters!

  • Comment number 20.

    Does anyone nore what the odds of Bebe playing in the 1st team at United?

    8 million quid down the toilet, along with Kleberson, Veron, Djembi Djembi, Gary Birtles??

    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Good comeback. I'm no mathematician but i'm fairly sure those players cost less than flops like Jo, Adebayor, Lescott, Bridge, Bellamy, Boateng, Kolarov etc

  • Comment number 21.

    20. At 20:11pm 13th May 2011, We all follow United wrote:
    Does anyone nore what the odds of Bebe playing in the 1st team at United?

    8 million quid down the toilet, along with Kleberson, Veron, Djembi Djembi, Gary Birtles??

    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Good comeback. I'm no mathematician but i'm fairly sure those players cost less than flops like Jo, Adebayor, Lescott, Bridge, Bellamy, Boateng, Kolarov etc
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Flops??

    I disagree. Bellamy was great last year, definitely not a flop.
    Adeybayor helped Real Madrid to the CL semis, hardly a flop.
    Lescott, playing every week and playing very well.
    Boateng= Undecided, not fit for most of the year, came back from World Cup jaded.
    Bridge = Hughes signing (all the players I mentioned for UTD were signed by 1 man)
    Jo = (once again Hughes signing, always be cautious about signing Brazilians, they are not that effective in the PL)

    So there you have it. Enjoy the final, CITY and Stoke take center stage"

  • Comment number 22.

    19. At 18:59pm 13th May 2011, 1878onwards wrote:
    Stepford Sheep.
    Salford? Why do you connect Utd with Salford?
    Old Trafford is under the control of Trafford(as is city's training ground)..as an aside,Salford gained city status before Manchester anyway!
    You mention 5 players in your post....need I list all the useless players that mighty citeh have bought these last 35yrs of abject failure?
    Or indeed when Utd loaned you Terry Cooke when your massive club were yo-yo'ing between the 3 divisions,whilst at the same time relying on respective chairmen to pay your staff's wages?
    Come on the Potters!
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------UTD are a Salford club, sorry just live with it.

    Yes, history is history but the future looks a lot brighter, agree??

    Thanks for Terry Cooke, he helped the "Phoneix" rise from the ashes with his performance against Gillingham.

    Cant you see??? we have travelled a long way in short time. If I was you, go and buy an appartment in the new CITY development, it will increase in value over the next 10 years, mark my words, mark my words.

    Enjoy the Cup Final sit back, cold beer in hand and enjoy

  • Comment number 23.

    Shepford Sheep.
    If I were you I'd have a word with your old geography teacher.Salford stops south of the Ship Canal and Old Trafford lies to the north in Trafford...but obviously they must have moved it overnight.
    Regarding the Cup Final,never watch citeh live..prefer to watch other football than the 8/9 man defence your gaffer prefers.
    Better game at Wembley on the 28th...the 2 best teams in Europe,enjoy your beer that night though,won't you..even though it will be through gritted teeth. Pip pip.

  • Comment number 24.

    23. At 21:21pm 13th May 2011, 1878onwards wrote:
    Shepford Sheep.
    If I were you I'd have a word with your old geography teacher.Salford stops south of the Ship Canal and Old Trafford lies to the north in Trafford...but obviously they must have moved it overnight.
    Regarding the Cup Final,never watch citeh live..prefer to watch other football than the 8/9 man defence your gaffer prefers.
    Better game at Wembley on the 28th...the 2 best teams in Europe,enjoy your beer that night though,won't you..even though it will be through gritted teeth. Pip pip.
    ______________________________________________________________________

    Did you not see the CITY/Utd semi-final? Lovely game, lovely football.

    When your manager players 1 up front he is a technical genius, when our manager playes 1 up front he is typical Italian.

    Your knowledge on football matters is worse than my geographical weaknesses.

    I will watch the CL final, Ole, Ole, Ole.

    Looking forward to it.

    I would still look into than spanking new appartment next to the "City Of Manchester" stadia, you will make a killing over the next 10 years. Listen to your wise old mate.

  • Comment number 25.

    It seems remarkable that there has been little discussion regarding the differing journeys both teams have taken since 1998. Both relegated at the same time to the third division, yet with differing investment and aspiration, land at Wembley for the FA cup.

    City obviously have had numerous false dawns but with the Sheik behind them, success looks imminent. Stoke however, have tailored their cloth differently and while being an unfashionable club per say, are a well established Premier league outfit now, with good older pros and great young talent.

    City though have some world level stars yet somehow leave the impression of having frailties which Stoke may exploit. Pulis owes City one as well after Wembley 1999.

    I hope for a good entertaining game, but Im afraid it may come down to the man in the middle, and I feel it may come to a refereeing decision, which will automatically give whoever suffers, a get out from their faults.

    I look forward to the game, but expect controversy.

  • Comment number 26.

    Re 24. Have you seen the area the stadium is in? and you recommend investment?

    along with the boarded up pubs and scrap metal merchants, the rotting B in the Bang and the stadium which may be developed further blocking sunlight etc.

    I hope you are not in Property advice.

  • Comment number 27.

    1878onwards posted earlier that three quarters of Manchester will be with Stoke on Saturday. How true you are, my friend!! They'll all be there supporting City!! Glad to see a rag finally admitting that most of Manchester is Blue!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    ps. Enjoy your title memories and savour them. You'll need to reflrct on them in the coming years, as you watch a period of City dominance ensue!!!! You had your time, as did Liverpool!! It's City's time next!! And before you start sniping about the money that's been spent at Eastlands, I will remind you that your club spent several years outspending everyone by a country mile to try to match Liverpool and it STILL took you 26 years to do it!! At least we won't take that long!!!!!! LOL!!!!!!

  • Comment number 28.

    Re 26 above.
    If you actually invest some of your time conducting some worthwhile research, you will discover that the whole vast area in the vicinity of the stadium is to be re-developed over the coming years. Therefore, any property purchased that is part of the development will be a sound and shrewd investment opportunity! This information is usually hidden in reading material!!!

  • Comment number 29.

    Great article and is of no suprise that vieira puts the team ahead of personal ambition. From what I hear he is the spirit of the dressing room and the 'go to' man. Before learning of this I was sceptical about extending his contract but is worth every penny, think he'll come on tomorrow to tighten it up at 2-0. My train leaves in an hour, can't wait to see the blues walk out in the FA cup final...come on city!!

  • Comment number 30.

    Wow. You are absolutely clutching at straws here. Vieira has been a bit part player and runs around like an old man. Was this the only thing you could write about? Why not made some terrible analysis of the team colours of winning teams in the past and say who will win based on that? Or an article based on a game of FIFA Soccer where you let the probable team line ups play each other without human interaction. Nah, I am kidding. Great article. Well worth the license fee.

  • Comment number 31.

    Always refreshing to see one of the very successful players coming to a club to help it move along rather than line their pockets. Sure patrick doesnt run games or cover the whole pitch these days, but the simple contributions of keeping the ball moving and organising the players around him are unbelievably underrated.
    That said, still reckon stoke will edge it with pennant ripping kolarov apart. Pulis' ability to get the best out of his team will far overshadow the talent at Mancini's disposal.

  • Comment number 32.

    Off-topic, so I apologise, but does anyone else agree that the photo contains most of the Premier League's ugliest footballers?

  • Comment number 33.


    Veteran midfield maestro Patrick is a born leader. He has laid his hands on every major trophy in his illustrious footballing career. There is lot more football to come from his repertoire. Good luck to fans and footballers in this afternoon's finals.



    Dr. Cajetan Coelho

  • Comment number 34.

    go the blues! :)

 

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