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Vieira - a risk Man City can afford to take

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Phil McNulty | 11:00 UK time, Thursday, 7 January 2010

When asked to name a Premier League "Team of the Noughties" I had no hesitation in planting Patrick Vieira right at its heart - ahead of Frank Lampard, Paul Scholes and Roy Keane - and making the Frenchman a prime contender to captain this imaginary eleven.

My selection was not based on my last two in-the-flesh glimpses of Vieira - namely an embarrassing appearance as a substitute when Liverpool beat Inter Milan in the Champions League in 2008 and a desperate 45 minutes at Manchester United in the same tournament a year later when Jose Mourinho mercifully put him out of his misery at half-time.

It was based on Vieira as leader of Arsenal's "Invincibles" of 2004, a player in at the start of Arsene Wenger's magical Highbury renewal and the captain whose final kick for the club - the winning penalty against Manchester United in the 2005 FA Cup final - gave the Gunners their last trophy.

Vieira was both enforcer and creator supreme, an iconic Arsenal figure and symbol of Wenger's transfer market genius. He had plucked the athletic and gifted midfield man from AC Milan's reserves for £3.5m in 1996.

Manchester City will be hoping for more of the Arsenal vintage than the Inter one as they prepare to sign Vieira on a short-term deal. It is a gamble by new manager Roberto Mancini, but the Eastlands riches make it one he can afford.

Vieira's recent form suggests he is a spent force at the highest level. At 33 years of age, he is unable to command regular first-team football at Inter after making only 16 appearances this season, most as substitute.

Yet his move to City is perfectly logical from his point of view as he clings to hopes of making this summer's World Cup and adding some knowhow to Raymond Domenech's flawed France side.

Vieira knows that if he shows even glimpses of his former greatness, the vulnerable Domenech may be tempted to go back to the reliability of one of his country's greatest players as he plots his campaign in South Africa.

And for City, this means they will be getting a motivated Vieira, eyeing one last shot at the greatest stage in football. Vieira is also a fiercely proud man who will not want to mar so many glorious Premier League memories by displaying only faded grandeur at Eastlands.

So for Senegalese-born Vieira, the lure of Manchester City and the Premier League is clear, in both a footballing and financial context.

For City, the reasoning is not so obvious. Mancini knows his man, having signed him for Inter from Juventus in 2006, but he has younger and more energetic midfield players at his disposal in Stephen Ireland, Gareth Barry, Nigel de Jong and Vincent Kompany.

Mancini made a point of lavishing praise on the combative De Jong after I watched his first game in charge of City against Stoke City on Boxing Day.

So why the need for Vieira, who has seen better days, comes expensively even on a short-term deal and who is a shadow of the player who once reigned supreme in winning three Premier League titles and four FA Cups at Arsenal?

vieirawenger595.jpgWenger (right) says Vieira can play a key role for Manchester City

Mancini can take heart from the words of Vieira's former manager Wenger, who toyed with the idea of re-signing his former captain but ultimately stuck to the old maxim that you should never go back.

Wenger believes that Vieira can make an important contribution to the transition taking place at Eastlands.

'We have young players in his position and are not in a real need to bring players in this position," said the Gunners boss. "I was surprised it was Manchester City. I believe he will still be very effective in the Premier League because he has been injury-free for three or four months, and that is what he needed."

The other side of the coin is expressed by Vieira's former Arsenal team-mate and BBC football pundit Lee Dixon. "Patrick gets a few little niggles and hasn't got a classically fit footballer's body, where you know he's an athlete who can go on and on," said the former right-back.

"He might look like he has that body, but he hasn't. He always needed a long time to recover after games, longer than some of the older lads.

"When Patrick joined Juventus from Arsenal, the Premier League and Serie A were like chalk and cheese, and, at that stage of his career, it suited him. I know myself that, since I finished back in 2002, the game is twice as fast and ridiculously different to when I played.

"It's four-and-a-half years since he left Arsenal, he's 33 and if you are asking, 'can he play at the top level?', then I wouldn't think he'd play every week."

Vieira may, however, help Mancini address two problem areas that undermined his predecessor Mark Hughes, allowing the Italian to deliver on his promise of silverware.

When I have watched City this season, they have occasionally lacked leadership on the pitch and have almost always been vulnerable at the back. Kolo Toure, another former Arsenal star, has not been a comfortable fit as either captain or defensive lynchpin.

Vieira, at any age, is a natural leader, and his experience may enable him to offer a more effective screen to City's exposed back four, although the legs and energy are not what they were.

And City, unlike many other clubs who may have been tempted to take a punt on Vieira, are in the luxurious financial position of knowing they can afford the odd failed gamble. The Eastlands hierarchy may not like it, but they know it will amount to the smallest of drops in the giant ocean of cash available to their Abu Dhabi rulers.

Great players should always be welcomed back to the Premier League, but it is to be hoped Vieira, a midfield prizefighter happy to stand toe-to-toe with Manchester United's Roy Keane (and that was only in the tunnel before kick-off), has not taken on one fight too many.

As someone who put him in my team of the decade, I would hate to see more of the latter-day Vieira, floundering in vain to find the old magic and struggling to cope with younger and more athletic adversaries. I am sure this would also apply to anyone who saw him at the peak of his powers at Highbury.

If he can recapture just a little of what made him great before he left for Juventus in 2005, then Mancini's first transfer market move since arriving at Eastlands may turn out to be a coup.

You can follow me throughout this season at twitter.com/philmcnulty and join me on Facebook.

Comments

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  • Comment number 1.

    can't really see the logic in this transfer personally.

    I think if there was anything left in the tank as far as viera is concerned then arsene wenger would probably have him back at arsenal. He looked past the premiership pace when he left trhe first time so I can believe he has much to offer a top premiership team. He might give them another body against the smaller teams but thats about it

    I guess all it really means is that mancini isn't too impressed with de jong and/or barry and wants the comfort of a player he has already worked with to ease him into his managerial position.

    i actually think city will do well second half of the season and could claim 4th place, but i don't think this signing will be the reason for that.

  • Comment number 2.

    Hasn't been great the last couple of years - but reports are that he was outstaning over 90 mins in his last game for Inter.

    What must Barry, Kompany and De Jong think though?

  • Comment number 3.

    first? anyway, i completely agree, members of my family support arsenal (not me) and they were sad to see the back of viera, even mentally urging wenger to sign him back recently. i feel that he may not play every game, but that he will impress in the games he does play, he could provide inspiration to the other 'stars' as well to take the game by the scruff of the neck and impose yourself, just like he did at arsenal.

  • Comment number 4.

    Phil, what's your take on the whole financial fiasco football is finding itself in?

    Personally, I want the FA to implement a system similar to that of the Bundesliga where clubs who are not financially balanced do not get a licence to play in the top 2 divisions. The only problem being it would take a good 10 years to implement and not many clubs here would agree to it.

    With the Portsmouth situation, how can a person be allowed to buy a club without having sufficient funds to keep the club running? It's ridiculous and surely the "Fit and Proper Persons" test needs to be altered to incorporate a financial check to ensure a person can afford to run a club. I don't want to see Portsmouth shut down, but I can see it happening if things carry on.

    On Vieira, it is a big risk for both parties involved, if he injures himself within the first month then it's a waste of a signing and wages they could have used on a fitter and younger alternative.

  • Comment number 5.

    It seems obvious to me - Mancini, like most coaches, wants an 'enforcer' to show his ideas on the pitch and in training to the rest of the team, particularly the younger ones. Most coaches bring in somebody they trust when they move teams, e.g. Mourinho with Carvalho, etc. It's not that hard to understand, really, Phil.

  • Comment number 6.

    What this signing tells me is that Mancini does not have faith in Gareth Barry, De Jong or Kompany to do the role they can do. If i was a player at Manchester City i would be worried by this. Vieira is a has been, no 2 ways about it. Mancini has bought him, like you say, for his leadership in which case Barry, as captain must feel pretty low. I just keep remembering Fabregas playing circles around him in the champions league.

  • Comment number 7.

    Good move for Viera and City - they can afford for him to rot on the bench though he'll find live is nicher in Milan and even in london with Arsenal!

    Hope he likes snow - plenty of it around Manc!

  • Comment number 8.

    I love the youtube link btw - Viera looks like a petrified kid! I had to say Keane was far more influential - thought Viera is the next best thing!

  • Comment number 9.

    are we goin to get to read any of the comments today or should i stop checking?

    oh wait don't tell me...the moderators are all snowed in and can't make it into work today...the poor loves

  • Comment number 10.

    I should think it is somewhat of a stretch to call Kolo Toure a "star". As an Arsenal supporter, I never thought much of him and was, in fact, glad that he left. As for Vieira, I am both surprised and not surprised that he is wanted at Eastlands. Wenger is correct in his belief that the likes of Song and Diaby are superior to Vieira precisely because of their athleticism. I would have been shocked and disheartened if Wenger brought Vieira back. That would be the equivalent of (to mix my metaphors) bringing Flintoff into the England XI in order to thwart South Africa on the cricket pitch. Vieira will prove to be like Toure and I daresay Richards: an expensive remedy, like downing cask strength scotch to kick a cold. City right now look more concerned with immediate outcomes than with longterm outcomes, and that was displayed in their sacking of Hughes. Vieira is costly not only in terms of finances (i.e., transfer fee and salary) but will prove more costly still in his lack of pace. Attacking midfielders will move past him with ease. The same can not be said of, e.g., Song. Mancini needs to be more creative than Hughes, whose signings were woefully predictable. I wonder, how much control does Mancini really have? Because Vieira strikes me (as did Tevez, Robinho, Adebayor, et al.) as so obvious and so expensive of a signing that the diktat seems to have come from the owners, not Mancini.

  • Comment number 11.

    Broadly you can see the logic of Mancini signing a player he knows well, especially one with extensive PL expierience. However when you factor in that both De Jong and Kompany (or Toure if required) play in his position you begin to wonder if Vieira is destined to replicate the bit part Oliver Dacourt played at Fulham last season. The only option could be Mancini intends to play 2 defensive midfield players with 2 wider midfield players, if that is the case then Stephen Ireland might want to consider his options come May.

  • Comment number 12.

    This is just a headline grabbing stunt by City.
    Vieira is just an embarassing shadow of the player he was at Arsenal and is way off the pace required in the Premier league. Not the sort of signing you would expect from a team with top 4 pretensions.
    Also, temperament wise, it could be interesting if he and Bellamy have an exchange of views during a game!!

  • Comment number 13.

    why the "and that was only in the tunnel before the game"?? you wrote a pretty good peice and ruined it w/ that one line. did you mean to insinuate that viera was only willing to go toe to toe w/ keane in the tunnel and not on the pitch? or did you mean to use the word "even" as in "and that was even in the tunnel before the game." don't really get it b/c on one hand you are saying what a great servant he was to arsenal and on & on- then in a moment of, well dunno what to call it- it comes off as if he didn't stand up to keane on the pitch??? the truth about viera's leadership abilities was spot on though...

  • Comment number 14.

    Viera does not have the legs to go forward in every game but he brings leadership and experience which will be beneficial to Stephen Ireland, Gareth Barry, Nigel de Jong and Vincent Kompany. These players who are more energetic can surge forward to support the attacking players while Viera will be comfortable provididng much needed cover for the defence. I stongly believe he will be most influential during training sessions but surly City fans will want to see him perform regularly during games.
    Mancini might just hit a master stroke with this deal which will quickly see him out perform Mark Hughes in a matter of weeks

  • Comment number 15.

    You mention his knowhow, experience, and leadership. I view these as three priceless qualities that Man City need.

    It's a smart move from City.

  • Comment number 16.

    What is it with Manchester teams and old players? Man Utd have already put the OLD in Old Trafford with their collection of old players and now Man City are trying to catch up. Who next for Mancini? Christian Vieiri? Will he try and persuade Figo out of retirement? Maybe Zola and Vialli might put their boots on again?

  • Comment number 17.

    Vieira is one of De Jongs idols, i doubt he'll be too dissapointed with him coming in short term.

    Several City players have gone on record saying Mancini has been emphasising that the long ball has to be last resort, but we don't have the greatest ball playing centre-halfs at the moment. I think Vieira's role will be primarily to take the ball off the defenders, and link with the creative players. De Jong does that, but his passing range is more limited, i think Vieira will provide a bit more composure to the City side, help us retain possession and dominate matches a bit more. One the many reasons for our poor defensive record so far is the failure to dominate possession.

    The other midfielders will still get plenty of match time, Vieira won't be playing 90 minutes twice a week, i'm pretty sure.

  • Comment number 18.

    Also i forgot to say, Phils point about leadership is a good one, we have some players who can lead by example, through their play, but i think the side lacks a true vocal leader. Someone who can rally the players together when we're under pressure and change the momentum of a match.

  • Comment number 19.

    I don't think thismove says Mancini 'doesn't trust' Barry, de Jong, and kompany to do their roles - they're all different players who can be utilised in different situations. Barry isn't a midfield general, kompany will surely be
    needed at centre back especially in toure's absence.

    The difference between the big clubs and the rest is that even the second string of a bigclub know how to win games - they have great experience and mentality. Mancini surely knows this.

    As the article title states, this is a gamble worth taking for city. In my eyes it's not even really a gamble, Noone has anything to lose in this switch.

  • Comment number 20.

    Of course Man City can "afford" to sign Vieira. They can afford to sign anybody in financial terms.

    In footballing terms, in my opinion, it is an unnecessary signing. Vieira's career is nearing its end and I don't see what he will bring to Man City apart from other players getting disgruntled due to more competition. Surely giving Kompany a run of games would be a favourable plan?

    Also, I'd take Wenger's words with a pinch of salt. He's just being nice to an old friend. The fact he could have signed Vieira by now and hasn't speaks volumes.

    Mancini obviously knows more about the current state of Patrick Vieira than most, but it's hard to see how a player who looked as if his legs had gone 2 years ago is going to be any more dynamic now.

    He's not going to recapture what made him great before he went to Juventus in 2005, because players get worse over time, it's a fact of life. Even someone like Ryan Giggs, as good as he is now, is not the same as 10 years ago when Man Utd won the treble, he got far more assists and goals then.

    The only benefit I can see is that he could maybe become a coach and help out the younger players.

  • Comment number 21.

    #4

    Personally, I want the FA to implement a system similar to that of the Bundesliga where clubs who are not financially balanced do not get a licence to play in the top 2 divisions. The only problem being it would take a good 10 years to implement and not many clubs here would agree to it.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------
    I totally agree with this. It's not fair that clubs like Fulham live within their means and run their club sensibly, while a team like Man City, who were going nowhere let's not forget before they got taken over, an spend their way like there's no tomorrow.

    Teams like Fulham get where they are through hard work and sensible financial decisions. Man City are where they are through money, nothing else. They have no class, they're mutton dressed as lamb. They don't deserve to be where they are.

  • Comment number 22.

    a midfield prizefighter happy to stand toe-to-toe with Manchester United's Roy Keane (and that was only in the tunnel before kick-off), has not taken on one fight too many.
    Was this the game when 11 Arsenal players ran on to the pitch, but only 10 could be found during the game. Enforcer dont make me laugh!

  • Comment number 23.

    Phil, please drop this urban myth about the so-called "invincibles". Arsenal lost in the FA Cup, League Cup and 3 matches in Europe in 2004.

    Compare that to the Treble winning seasons of Barcelona last year, who lost 6 games and Manchester United in 98/99 who lost 4 games.

    I'd say those two teams are worthy of being Invincible.

  • Comment number 24.

    any idea how much they are gonna give inter for him? and as always phil, hitting the nail on the head

  • Comment number 25.

    Hello, This is a comment out to No 2.
    I seem to be getting the impression that u seem to be blaming portsmouth's foriegn owners for the situation they are in.

    Portsmouth are in this financial mess beacuse over the last two years, whilst Harry Rednapp was the manager, they have spent significantly more than they can afford. As a result of which they are burdened with debts.

    Anybody expecting rich arab benefactors to come in and save the club is living in dreamland and to blame a new owner for not pumping his own money in to pay off the debts is even more ridiculous. I for one say let Portsmouth go into administration. Will be a good lesson for the other clubs, so they finally learn to live within their means.

  • Comment number 26.

    As an Arsenal supporter it will be extreamly hard for me to watch PV doing his thing in a City jersey, although that said, I wish him all the best, he was a true legend for us.

    He's definetly not the same player he was, but this is a no lose situation for City. If he doesn't quite make the cut for the first team, his experience of competing at the very highest level can only be a help to the rest of the squad on match days and on the training ground.

    Some say you can't put a price on experience, well at City they can!!

  • Comment number 27.

    I have been following City since Neil Young was popping them in and in hundreds and hundreds of City matches I've been to if I was pushed to choose "best player I've seen" during that time it would be Vieira.

    Ok he's the wrong side of 30 BUT he's 3 years younger than Giggs who has just signed another year with the team from Trafford Borough. PV will be offering a different option in the middle from de Jong and Barry and Ireland etc and on top of that has first class European competition experience.

    He is not cup tied for Carling or FA and quite frankly might make a better skipper than Toure who needs that responsibility off his shoulders. Good think Roberto Manciti. Onwards and upwards.

  • Comment number 28.

    Looks like Mancini is buying up his old players- I'd be worried if i supported Man City, could be a bunch of old italians coming to eastlands.

  • Comment number 29.

    The only benefit he will bring for Man City is another shirt to sell.
    He may be a leader, but leaders must be accepted, and that takes a while. In the time being he can hold Mancini's hand I suppose.

  • Comment number 30.

    Man City are a great team, but are missing a leader in the changing room, on the training ground and in the middle of the Pitch. I feel Viera could be that person.

  • Comment number 31.

    I bet Vieira thinks it's his birthday with this final payday! Why are they signing people they don't need? as other pointed out - De Jong, Kompany, Barry. Can't see him making any difference.

  • Comment number 32.

    It doesn't necessarily follow that anyone who leaves arsenal or is rejected by Wenger is finished as a footballer. Take the case of Anelka - left arsenal years ago, signed by chelsea years later and is doing quite well for them. Mancini has worked with Viera before and should know what he can offer. I think he brings experience and much needed cover for the defense. He may not play all games but should be a bonus in the games he does.

  • Comment number 33.

    Has anyone thought that Viera maybe used as a centre back? As he is no longer as fit as he used to be I would have thought he could do a good job as a centre back. He certainly has the height and was always a great tackler. Or he could be deployed just in front of the two cb's in a diamond. This way he is not doing 'box to box' runs like he used to for Arsenal. just a thought.

  • Comment number 34.

    To be honest,i think that Patrick Viera is way past his prime.At Arsenal he enjoyed his best years but at Inter he was always a fringe player,even when he played.Man City are wasting money with this signing even though they're loaded,probably earning 100k a week.

  • Comment number 35.

    Viera is the most decorated player currently playing in the world, 107 caps and in the FIFA 100. He has won a trophy( including Juventus discredited title in 2006) every season since leaving Arsenal ,unlike Arsenal and played a major part in the French run to the last World Cup final. Arsenal won five trophies in the four seasons prior to Viera leaving. This may hopefully rub off on City. He is 33 not 43.
    This is a smart move by City. I disagree with the comments that he is a shadow of the player he was, has poor recent form and played poorly in the first half against UTD last year. He has clearly not been the height of his powers at times in Italy but has been unlucky injury wise, but hardly in a Micheal owen or Darren Anderton catalogue of woe.
    The tone of the negative comments posted seem to be a reaction to a lazy British media stereotype of out of sight, out of mind, rather than a clinical analysis of his time in Italy, of four Scudettos, two Supercups and his involvement which consists of one hundred and fifteen appearances and thirteen goals( he was never prolific) in all competitions prior to the start of this season excluding internationals.

    Not bad for a crock!

  • Comment number 36.

    This could be bad news for England at the world cup. I think Barry has been one of the best players for England under Capello and deserves being one of the first players picked in the team for South Africa, after his previous games for England, Villa and now Man City.

    However, with the arrival of Viera, will this result in Barry being dropped and playing less games. Resulting in him losing form and Capello questioning his match fitness, alla Beckham, Owen & Crouch for England.

    Will it prove a poor footballing decision my Barry, joining Man City, especially if he misses the world cup and Champions League, next season to Villa.

  • Comment number 37.

    "Will it prove a poor footballing decision my Barry, joining Man City, especially if he misses the world cup and Champions League, next season to Villa."

    Hilarious if it does.

  • Comment number 38.

    Cant see much point in Viera going to Man City.
    Firstly, it will be difficult for him to be a leader sat on the bench every other game. He will bring something to the dressing room but his services are required more for on the pitch and i think he will struggle to play most games.
    Secondly, like most people have said Barry, De Jong and Ireland have done a good job this season. If City want a presence player they should find a commanding centre back.
    I also feel like others that Ireland days at city may be numbered, especially if mancini shows alot much faith in viera, dont see Ireland fitting in to the City formation.
    However one good possibility, maybe Viera is the man to kick Robinho into gear away from home..

  • Comment number 39.

    All Arsenal fans should welcome back Patrick to the UK. He is perhaps the most valuable Gunner of the Wenger era.

  • Comment number 40.

    If we believe a word of what Mr McNulty says, he will have us believe that Liverpool will win the title this season. ; )

    What Vieira brings, is exactly what City needs, Experience at the highest level, Leadership quality and a wining mentality.

    Mancini is proving to me every day, that he is 100 times the manager Mark Hughes was, that is my opinion.

    It is also my opinion that by the end of the season, both; Mr McNulty and Alan Hansen, will be eating many pies.

  • Comment number 41.

    On the face of it, I can see why there's scepticism about this transfer.

    But, let's also look at it this way. Vieira's massively experienced, is a leader, has got iconic status. He can still give you 90 minutes or play a few minutes to sure up midfield, give other players a rest. This can all help as Man City look to break into the top four.

    As for the money in wages, this is Man City we're talking about! Recession - what recession?! The wealth of the club is fairy tale stuff.

    I think it can be summed up like this: Signing Vieira can do the club no harm. If it doesn't work, nothing's been lost. If he proves to be an inspiration and a vital part of a squad to compete against the big boys, it's will be great for Man City

    Either way, signing him or not, Man City wont lose anything, but potentially have a lot to gain.

  • Comment number 42.

    Tho a risk, it is 100% a risk worth taking for Mancini. Alltho he is old there ar numerous examples of players who are past there peak providing something for the team, Giggs now..Larsson a couple of years back, Makelele etc. Situation..1-0 lead in the 70th minute..Viera comes on and sees the game out, he will provide City with a more authorative enforcer then they currently have, drawbacks of course on Vieras side is that I cant see him getting the kind of 'regular' football he ones coming to City but only time will tell!

  • Comment number 43.

    I don't really get this move personally, Vieira is nowhere near the player he once was and definitely inferior to Barry, De Jong and Kompany right now.

    All I can see is a club with far too much money than sense, who else in the world would pay Vieira £140,000 p/w, it's ridiculous. Maybe in training his experience will be useful but as to his contribution on the pitch can't see it myself. If he can't handle the pace and physicalness of Serie A (which is minimal at best) then he doesn't stand a chance in the Premier League, he's not joining a mid table team, he's joining a team expected to win the majority of their games and I can't see how he will help on the pitch.

    Can't plam Vieira though, £140,000 p/w for a 33 year old isn't ad is it.

  • Comment number 44.

    To bobbieflowers and Marco Sarasini...I would be surprised if Mancini has not been impressed with De Jong or Barry. He was glowing about De Jong when we spoke to him after the Stoke game. Maybe there is a little bit of "strength in numbers" involved. He will utilise them all.

    I think SMorgan makes the correct points when he writes: "You mention his knowhow, experience, and leadership. I view these as three priceless qualities that Man City need."

    And to Ohahcan2na...I hope you're not suggesting Vieira might hide from the confrontation with Keane. Not a chance - in either case, Vieira or Keane.

    To thecat...I think you are being churlish to question the "Invincibles" tag. To go through a whole league season unbeaten is a magnificent achievement and worthy of the label. Make no mistake, every other club would have called themselves the same had they been good enough to achieve what Arsenal achieved in that fantastic season.

    Lots of posts about leadership and experience being the key components in this deal, and I have to agree with that.

  • Comment number 45.

    Fowler, Owen...now Vieira! Why is it so difficult for people to accept the brutal fact that the past is gone...forever!

    They were GREAT players, but the key word is WERE. Move on!

  • Comment number 46.

    I think the point of this article is to say that Man City lack leadership. This has been pointed in out by many journalists from a variety of the country's leading sports pages. Viera is a leader no matter whether he has the physical abilities of his Arsenal days, he will still be an asset. Mancini needs someone that the players can look up to and listen to who will be able to get across his ideas on the pitch. This is why he has been bought.


    http://bigmatchcentre.blogspot.com

  • Comment number 47.

    "Vieira was both enforcer and creator supreme, an iconic Arsenal figure and symbol of Wenger's transfer market genius. He had plucked the athletic and gifted midfield man from AC Milan's reserves for £3.5m in 1996."

    I have heard this line about Vieira by every anglocentric journalist and it's never right. Wenger paid £3.5m for a 20 year old. Seems alot to pay for a reverse team player doesn't it and only 20 years...? Well the answer is that Vieira was known as one of the best young talents in the game. Thats why he was bought by Wenger. That's also why he was at AC Milan at such a young age and that is why he became such a good player. He always was, even if English journalists had never heard of him. The answer: watch more football and know your game better.

  • Comment number 48.

    44. At 4:22pm on 07 Jan 2010, philmcnultybbcsport wrote:
    To bobbieflowers and Marco Sarasini...I would be surprised if Mancini has not been impressed with De Jong or Barry. He was glowing about De Jong when we spoke to him after the Stoke game. Maybe there is a little bit of "strength in numbers" involved. He will utilise them all
    _________________________________________________________________

    i guess so, I to would be very suprised if he wasn't impressed with them two. Barry has been good all season from the reports i've read and De jong is better than him from the couple of games i've seen...i think he could turn out to be one of their better signings...and someone above has stated viera is his idol so i guess he's happy.

    maybe (as another poster stated) this means ireland's place is at risk. He hasn't been as good as last season (he set the bar very high though) and might not be mancini's cup of tea.

    It will be interesting to see what he makes of some of city's 'lesser lights' swp, bridge etc are all going to be on trial now...and it looks like he is already trying to off load some...the rumours page says santa cruz is being touted for a loan...hate to say i told u so...but this was always the most likely outcome for him...despite the fact he is good player when fit

  • Comment number 49.

    Viera is completely, totally and utterly past it. Arsene Wenger knew that when he got shot of him and he now isn't good enough to play in an inferior league in Italy, so how he'll keep up with the Premiership's pace I have no idea.

    Mancini's pursuit of another midfield who is past it, and was past it even when he was in the Premiership, in Veron would worry me if I were a Manchester City fan. Mancini's lack of Premiership experience is already showing. You can't put decent cart horses who have gone out to pasture into the Derby.

  • Comment number 50.

    Phil, I don't think thecat is being churlish by promoting the truth! What is this ridiculous garbage about the Arsenal being the 'Invincibles' in 03/04? Do you know the definition of invincible and for it to apply to a football team, it applies to every aspect of that team (every competition)! Not even the great Barcelona of last year can be called invincible and their achievements far outweigh one premiership title.

    For the sake of quality journalism, please stop promoting nonsense. Aside from that, I think you were spot on about Viera...an expensive gamble but one City can afford to take.

  • Comment number 51.

    35. At 3:49pm on 07 Jan 2010, kiwiobrien wrote:
    Viera is the most decorated player currently playing in the world,


    No he's not T.Henry is.

  • Comment number 52.

    Phil - Mancini is buying Viera because he's the best he can get a short notice. If City are to actually challenge for the PL title this season (as their new manager believes they can)instead of just aiming for a 'top 4 spot', then he has to do something about the defence; hence Viera sitting in front of (or perhaps in) the back 4, is the short term solution!. If he's bought him for any other reason, Mancini's days at Eastland would already be numbered!

  • Comment number 53.

    18 months at 140,000, just short of 11m - no kidding when some say his experience will be valuable.

    So in those 18 months are Man City really going to learn what it takes to complete at the highest level, granted they have some players that you could call 'world class' but clearly they have not integrated well yet and I don't see Viera's contribution making so much of a difference that they will become dominant in that time.

    Look across to Spain at Real Madrid and it will tell you how 256m won't buy you a team that can play together. So spending this amount on a 33yr old whose best days are well behind him is like sticking money on the fire.

  • Comment number 54.

    I'd hate to pay his wages. Although he won't cost much, you'd end up losing a sizeable amount.

    I agree he is extremely experienced which I feel City need, but in terms of quality, he's past it.

    Even though City has pretty much unlimited funds, it doesn't mean you run the club so it isn't profitable.

  • Comment number 55.

    So why the need for Vieira, who has seen better days, comes expensively even on a short-term deal and who is a shadow of the player who once reigned supreme in winning three Premier League titles and four FA Cups at Arsenal?
    __________________________________________________________________________

    Simple reason. Mancini wants his man in there. Viera is a dominant figure and he will instantly dominate the dressing room, for Mancini. That is management, pure and simple.

  • Comment number 56.

    realy do not understand why man city have sighned a player like vieira who is way over the hill there is no way he is better than barry and de jong the only time ive seen him play since he left arsenal was in the champions league last 16 against man u and his legs had gone then if he still had it do u think mourhino would let him go

  • Comment number 57.

    Nak245 - pedantic much?? You're tearing into phil for a minor technicality. Bet youre sitting there on your high horse with a dictionary on your lap.
    The fact is, arsenal had an incredible season in 03-04 in the premier league which hasnt been matched by another english team since then (and i say that as a man united fan). That's just a matter of fact. Phil merely highlighted that point. So don't post stupid replies just for the sake of being heard.

  • Comment number 58.

    Labsab9

    Good Shout

    Thierry Henry was not on the pitch when France won the world cup but did score three goals earlier in the competion. TH has won the Champions league. Two premier league titles to PVs three. Three Fa Cups to PVs Four. One la liga to four scudettos.

  • Comment number 59.

    "Phil, I don't think thecat is being churlish by promoting the truth! What is this ridiculous garbage about the Arsenal being the 'Invincibles' in 03/04? Do you know the definition of invincible and for it to apply to a football team, it applies to every aspect of that team (every competition)! Not even the great Barcelona of last year can be called invincible and their achievements far outweigh one premiership title."

    the invincibles were the best team to ever grace the premier league. they combined quality with style to the best posible affect. viva the invincibles!!

    as for pat coming back with man city. i'll be glad to see him in the prem one last time. a legend of a player indeed. although he'll do nothing on the pitch, nothing at all. i think mr mancini has got the italian and english leagues mixed up. players a few years from retirement may still shine in italy, but not here. giggs may be one example, but they're aren't many other. gl to him, but i expect a huge shock in it shore.

  • Comment number 60.

    Two things Phil

    First the "invicables tag" - Always a bad idea to call your team invincable, "unbeaten" would have been a better (and more accurate) description, I don't for one moment think SAF would have gone on TV and said his team were invincable. Why? Besides is obvious inaccuracy (in a season where they didn't win every game in the league, never mind the cups) there is the whole mental side. Arsenal's players believed their own press, they (and they're fans) thought they'd turn up the next season and walk it. They ignored their faults and didn't strengthen, and they paid for it. Their unbeaten run didn't last long, they players didn't try as hard and they fell apart, they have been paying the price of their arrogance ever since!

    Second - Viera, if he's not physically fit enough to do it in what is considered by many to be an "old mans league" in Italy, a league where you can still be the best defender and be in your fourties what chance does he have in the PL? You state he brings leadership, he doesn't. He was once a great leader. But ;eadership is LEADing, from the front, he won't be doing that, he's not fit enough or strong enough any more. Cast your mind back to Keanes last season at Utd, as his powers as a player faded so did his ability to lead, he couldn't tell players they were underperforming (like he had in the past) without admitting that he too was underperforming, it eventually led to him leaving the team, he knew he wasn't good enough, and knew the team wasn't, but players don't take advice from someone else going through a dip, even if a year before he was considered a Great leader, even a club Ledgend.

    In my opinion the only reason Viera gets in your team of the naughties is because you didn't see his fall week in, week out. You didn't see him fade away, so the two bad memories can be ignored. You saw much more of Keanes, and as we all do we remember the most recent performance the most, you remember Viera before he faded. The guy city have signed would never have been given the time of day by his younger self.

  • Comment number 61.

    Its amazing, these people who know nothing about City and care even less are so quick to say how he is past it etc, why do you care?

    We really dont care what you think, if he can do a job great, if not we move on.
    One thing though, the way Nigel De Jong plays he will be injured, suspended are just very tired for a big chunk of the season, having a similar player may not be a bad thing.

    My biggest laugh though was #20 "Teams like Fulham get where they are through hard work and sensible financial decisions. Man City are where they are through money, nothing else. They have no class, they're mutton dressed as lamb. They don't deserve to be where they are".

    So remind me oh genius who bank rolled Fulham through the divisions at the expense of more worthy established clubs, when they spent far more than they earned! And your crass, stupid immature comments about my club, City have a 100 year history, have won nine major trophies though none for a while, hold the record attendance for a game outside Wembley and were the last 1-11 English team to be champions of England oh and before the take over were already averaging more than 40,000 even though one of the worlds biggest and successful clubs is on our doorstep.

    Try growing up mate.


  • Comment number 62.

    21. At 2:48pm on 07 Jan 2010, joe strummer wrote:
    #4

    Personally, I want the FA to implement a system similar to that of the Bundesliga where clubs who are not financially balanced do not get a licence to play in the top 2 divisions. The only problem being it would take a good 10 years to implement and not many clubs here would agree to it.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------
    I totally agree with this. It's not fair that clubs like Fulham live within their means and run their club sensibly, while a team like Man City, who were going nowhere let's not forget before they got taken over, an spend their way like there's no tomorrow.

    Teams like Fulham get where they are through hard work and sensible financial decisions. Man City are where they are through money, nothing else. They have no class, they're mutton dressed as lamb. They don't deserve to be where they are
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    fulham live withing there means? pls dont make me laugh, how do you think they got from the old third division to the premier league in 4-6 years? perhaps something to do with there millionaire owner? just because he has stopped spending as big as he once was doesnt neglect the fact when he brought sanchez in he spent 30million on players and has bacled hodgson with money for players such as johnson..... teams such as arsenal spurs burnley are better examples of teams who live within there own limits

  • Comment number 63.

    Phil - Patrick Vieira proved himself to be a great leader at Arsenal, but there he led by example by being incredibly committed and dominating the midfield.

    So my worry is that if he is not playing surely it will just unsettle the dressing room as the guys on the pitch may take exception to being shouted at by a player who is in the twilight of his career; if he doesn't put in a shift on the pitch then he doesn't have credibility as a leader. It's hardly as if he has been bossing the midfield at Inter over the last couple of years. That listless performance against Manchester United was painful to watch.

  • Comment number 64.

    Pointless signing, the legs are gone otherwise Jose would play him & keep him.

    Mancini has limitless money & all he wants to do is help an old mate go to a World Cup, nice work if you can get it.

    Must be no scouts anymore, just go out & buy players you have heard of, that'll work long term. City lack genuine pace in the middle of the park & this doesnt change that, if anything it makes it worse.

    PS his name is spelt Vieira.

  • Comment number 65.

    The only players Arsene Wenger has sold who have kept up their quality since leaving Arsenal are Nicolas Anelka and Thierry Henry. Wenger usually only sells players either if their quality drops or if they've angered the dressing room (see Adebayor). Vieira is quite simply not the same player as when he left Arsenal, and City will be getting the man in his declining years. Mourinho should be laughing once the deal's done.

  • Comment number 66.

    Crikey - some people have more money than sense haven't they? I could name a dozen better midfielders in the premier league that are on a fraction of what he's on and the vast majority of current premiership players represent better value. Even Gavin McCann falls in to that category and I never thought any Bolton fan would use his name and value in the same sentence.

    Mind you I really want Viera's agent on my side when it comes to seeing my boss about a pay rise - he's a genius!!

  • Comment number 67.

    Experience! Mancini is hoping some of that will rub off on the team. Expect Vieria to play bit parts and cameos. City are seriously considering the title now.

    Three straight wins and three clean sheets under Mancini. Results count. They probably wouldn't have won all those games under Mark Hughes.

    Your thoughts, Phil???

  • Comment number 68.

    Sorry Phil but your selection of Patrck Vieira in your team of the Noughties frankly shows a lack of any credible football knowledge. Vieira was an accomplished player no doubt.
    But he had, arguably, his best season for Arsenal back in 1998 when Arsene Wenger first won the league title. His performances then were contributed to by his renowned partnership with Emmanual Petit. After this season, Vieira had two more brilliant seasons, the season of the invincibles back in 2003-4, and back in 2001 when, again, Arsenal won the league. After the invincible season in 2004, Vieira was blighted by injuries, suspensions and poor performances. Then, in 2005 he left for Inter Milan. How can a player who was in the Premiership for half of it, and was outstanding for less than half of that time, be in the team of the decade. Ridiculous.

  • Comment number 69.

    Last point on the "Invincibles" because I am standing by Arsenal and their fans on this one. It is a tag used by Arsenal as a club and by their supporters to pay tribute to a team that went through an entire Premier League season unbeaten - and they have every right to use it in that context.

    Don't tell me Chelsea, Liverpool and Man Utd fans would not be applying similar labels had they not done something similar?

    I can see both shades of opinion on this deal. City are buying a player who has seen his best days. We have no argument on that, but Mancini is obviously banking on Vieira's influence to have a positive effect and also then follow it up on the field. I can certainly see why he wants leadership and a big personality in his side.

    And as I stated, the bonus for City is that they have the funds to take a calculated risk on an expensive deal.

  • Comment number 70.

    To thewelshboycott...would think they would have won at least two of those three games under Hughes in my opinion, Stoke at home and Middlesbrough away in the FA Cup - and I wouldn't have bet against them at Wolves either. All a bit academic now though for Hughes sadly.

  • Comment number 71.

    Having Vieira at City means that should Bobby Manc decide to keep Kompany in defence the central midfield won't be short of players.
    Just because a journalist cannot see any logic doesn't mean that there isn't any, and if anyone is going to know what Vieira can offer City it's going to be Mancini.

  • Comment number 72.

    Last point on the "Invincibles" because I am standing by Arsenal and their fans on this one. It is a tag used by Arsenal as a club and by their supporters to pay tribute to a team that went through an entire Premier League season unbeaten - and they have every right to use it in that context.
    -------
    As the one who originally contested this point in the blog, allow me to conclude for the prosecution.

    I would never doubt that the achievement by Arsenal that season was unique. However, your point about "Invincibles" being "a tag used by Arsenal as a club and by their supporters to pay tribute to a team that went through an entire Premier League season unbeaten" is lost on me because it seems that the entire written and spoken media like to use this phrase like its gone out of fashion.

    The bottom line though is the promotion that this feat was any better than any other Championship winning team, especially one that went on to "do the double" (Spurs '61, Arsenal '71, Liverpool '86) or the unprecedented Treble. Perhaps we should refer to those teams as the "Not quite as Invincible but more Successful"!

    Regards

  • Comment number 73.

    Having Vieira at City means that should Bobby Manc decide to keep Kompany in defence the central midfield won't be short of players.
    Just because a journalist cannot see any logic doesn't mean that there isn't any, and if anyone is going to know what Vieira can offer City it's going to be Mancini.

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

    did you read the article at all? he was putting across both sides of the argument. he could be astute signing given his great leadership, or he could simply fail to keep up with the premiership with is aging body.

  • Comment number 74.

    As a City fan I hope Mancini isn't trying to buy the Viera of old.

    Hope he uses him in a Claude Makalele type role of protecting the back four and first point of distribution (remember how fragile and unstable Chelsea became without Makalele). City seem to have similar problems these days.

    I think you have to trust Mancini knows Viera and knows what he is doing.

  • Comment number 75.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 76.

    He could be a great buy for City. What they need most now is stability on & off the field. Thye have a new manager & now they have a player who can control the game from midfield & bring consistency to the team. Could be the best buy of the season.

  • Comment number 77.

    I believe most of you are being too harsh. Even though Man City is not playing any European competition, a proper top half Prem team needs those few words: "strength in depth". We've seen the case with Aston Villa's thin squad in the last couple of years.
    City has effectively 3 options in center mid: Ireland, de Jong and Barry. Don't give me Kompany because he's a centerback. He has made his name in Belgium and Germany in that position and looked awfully slow and square in central midfield. Plus, City's defense isn't top class either, hence they need him adding numbers at the back.
    So Vieira is at least a great option for the squad. One might raise the argument that he won't tolerate a squad player position, that he comes to show Domenech his merit, but in the medium run (two seasons), he will be useful for the squad.
    Overall, it's a good signing because all parties agree with it. Except you lot, mostly non-City fans.

  • Comment number 78.

    The only reason I can think that Mancini wants to sign him is because he knows him from when he was Inter boss. Nigel De Jong is a quality player that has been woefully underused this season and if Viera is going to be first choice then his opportunities will be limited. Perhaps a deal to sell De Jong on has already been done? Real were supposed to be interested and Arsenal could do with a player like him too. Not sure they would meet the valuation though.

  • Comment number 79.

    Signing Vieira is a very clever and astute piece of work by Roberto Manicini. Firstly he will provide a dressing room spirit that will reap benefits out on the pitch and secondly he will create a bit more competition in the team.
    I honestly believe Manicini has signed PV as a short term excersise where he knows better than the cynics do suggesting Vieira is past it etc etc clearly this great manager knows exactly what he is doing.It will however disappoint the Anti Man City brigade but that now goes with the territory well it has done for the last 50 years I think so whats new? Ha ha ha this present witch hunt is just another sad case of Jealousy I'm afraid and like in the past we shall have to live with it..........GOOD LUCK PATRICK VIEIRA AT OUR CLUB AND WE ALL HOPE YOU WIN BACK A PLACE IN THE FRENCH SQUAD!

  • Comment number 80.

    at around 2019hrs I posted comments that were far from infringing house rules regarding Patrick Vieira but the moderator appears to have blocked it --WHY HAS HE PLEASE EXPLAIN?

  • Comment number 81.

    Ultimately if you look at the City and Arsenal squads, City have De Jong, Barry and Kompany who can all play a defensive midfield role quite effectively, and let's be honest this is where is going to be playing as he's simply not the same box to box player he used to me. Yet at this moment in time, with Song at the African cup of Nations, we at Arsenal have absolutely no-one who can play that role. Denilson is too attacking, Fabregas wasted, Diaby untried in such a defnsive role and Ramsey not phyiscally stong enough. You've got to say that if Wenger genuinely believed Patrick was even half the player he used to be he'd have brought him in for these six months. Clearly Mancini differs in that opinion. All the same can't wait to see the look on Adebayor's face when we lift the roar of at the Emirates in cheers for Vieira and Toure and probably give him more stick than Barcelona fans gave Figo on his return to the Nou Camp.

  • Comment number 82.

    To johnny-b-good...interesting comparison with Makelele at Chelsea. One or two other Man City observers I have spoken to have mentioned this sort of screening role. Mancini certainly knows what he is getting, and he clearly feels he can get something more out of Vieira at Premier League level. I will be fascinated to see how he acquits himself back in England - and I think it would be a real shame if did not at least some of the old qualities. I hope we can remember him as the great player he was at Arsenal.

  • Comment number 83.

    I'm surprised, time and time again, how bloggers for the BBC keep writing extensively about issues they hardly seem to know anything about. How can you mention that in the past few years or so you have only seen Vieira play twice (both times after he had just returned from injury, yet at the same time persist on making a general evalution of his entire time at Inter? This is ludicrous. Saying Vieira is faded is terribly incorrect. Sure he is 33 years old, isn't as dynamic as he was in his Arsenal days, has not been playing much first-team football during this season or last season, yet to say that he is faded is absolutely contradicted by his outstanding performances whenever he has put on the Nerrazzuri shirt (this season included). Even in his last outing, the victory over Chievo yesterday, he was fabulous. And this match was certainly not a one-off. Ask any Inter fan or follower of Serie A about how Vieira has performed for Inter during his time there and they will tell you he has been excellent whenever he's been fully fit. Of course he can't turn in peak performances right after returning from injury, so to judge him on those standards is totally unprofessional and I must say I would expect more from a BBC sports writer. Certainly you can't follow every league in the world but in that case I would not expect hardline views to be made on these types of issues that you clearly don't have much knowledge about. To think that the underlining theme for this whole blog is along the lines of how 'Vieira is a spent force but could still offer something to Man City' is bizarre to me as this statement is not true in any way and renders this entire blog more or less irrelevant.

    "The latter-day Vieira, floundering in vain to find the old magic and struggling to cope with younger and more athletic adversaries", to make these types of statements based on less than 2 Champions League games over the course of 3 seasons, as BBC Sport's chief football writer, is in my opinion totally disgraceful.

  • Comment number 84.

    If he really considered him to be useful in the Premier League, Arsene himself would have signed him.

    Wenger and SAF usually say the opposite of what they mean, and will happily compliment anything they don't see to be a threat.

    I'm sure Wenger will be perfectly happy to watch Fabregas run rings around him come their next fixture together.

  • Comment number 85.

    United fan here - I think Arsenal fans have every right to use the "invincibles" tag.

    I wonder though whether Arsenal fans would exchange that unbeaten league season for losing a couple of league games yet winning the Champions League as well? As a United fan I know which one I'd prefer....and I'm pretty sure fans of Barcelona would agree as well.

    As for Vieira, City have got nothing to lose. They've got a bottomless pit of cash so even if Vieira is a disaster they'll just buy someone else. I don't see it as a risk at all. The problem with moneybags teams (and yes I include United in this) is that the exciting element of risk is almost lost when it comes to signing players, as if one fails they just buy another. Look at the likes of Veron, Nani, Kleberson, Shevchenko....

  • Comment number 86.

    If he can't keep down a regular place in a league which is largely played at a quarter of the speed of the Premier league then how can he possibly make it in to a team boasting the likes of Stephen Ireland, Gareth Barry, Nigel de Jong and Vincent Kompany. It goes without saying he was a fantastic player but I don't think it would be a good move for either Viera or City.

  • Comment number 87.

    Oh I see it now had Vieira been in line to sign for the famous man united some of these sad and bitter posters would have been saying what an inspirational piece of genius by sir (eh) Alex Ferguson etc etc etc you kow something like how Michael Owen suddenly became a great player again when he signed for United.Of course the utd fans wont talk about Owen now but find the time to call another club's aquasition of a once great player and I say once because Vieira was but can still do a good short term job at Man City for goodness sake have you got anything good to say about City other than vitriolic nonsense?

  • Comment number 88.

    Brummerdickens, Wenger was very eager to bring back Vieira back to Arsenal but couldn't afford his £100K a week wages ha ha CITY can so MOVE ON?

  • Comment number 89.

    [Yawn] Any football on?

  • Comment number 90.

    I saw Viera in the flesh in Cardiff in 2001. As a Liverpool fan I was mesmerised by the guy in midfield, who was teaching a young Steven Gerrard a lesson. Thankfully for Liverpool, we had Michael Owen, who stole the game from the gunners right at the death!
    Viera is not that player anymore. He doesn't have the legs. He may get a couple of games, but I think we will see pretty quickly that he isn't good enough for the premiership anymore.

    Some have said he can play a protective role sat in front of the back four. This role is not for an older guy. This is not the days of Ronald Koeman, or Lothar Matteus who could lumber around ping long balls around. The players in these roles have to be superfit, running around more than any other player on the field. In addition they get a lot of physical abuse, and clearly Vieras body is not going to put up with that.

    I hope he has a couple of cameos, so that we can remember him for the great things, rather than the inevitable mistakes and early substitutions.

    By the way I am happy to call the Arsenal team of 2004 the invincibles. Why not? Its United fans, too jealous to be magnanimous.

  • Comment number 91.

    Mancini must see something there he knows Vieira well, but really I would be surprised if he could cut it at the top. Doesn't really matter - it's the financial icing on a great career. Even if he plays only half a dozen games this season he is probably being paid an extraordinary amount of money. It's called cashing in.

  • Comment number 92.

    Maybe also be worth remembering Glenn Hoddle who finshed his career as a sweeper (and much older than Viera as I remember). He still managed to contribute moments of genuine quality from a holding position at the back.

    PS Welcome Back Patrick ,,, great to have you back in the Premier, especially for City, and any chance you could have a word with Thierry Henry to see if he'd join you ?

  • Comment number 93.

    "... a team like Man City, who were going nowhere let's not forget before they got taken over, an spend their way ... Teams like Fulham get where they are through hard work and sensible financial decisions. Man City are where they are through money, nothing else."

    Joe Strummer - Hmmm ... I seem to remember Fulham were in the 3rd / 4th tier before a certain Mohammed Al Fayed took over, forced Micky Adams out, installed Kevin Keegan and a number of expensive and high profile players. You're either 7 years of age or have selective memory!

  • Comment number 94.

    So your judging a legend of Premiership football on two substitute appearances? :S

  • Comment number 95.

    I think it's inevitable that Vieira will end up playing as a very defensive midfielder, in the Makekele role. I don't think at 33 he's got the legs to be the box to box player we saw at Arsenal.

    But here's another thought... I wonder if Mancini might see Vieira as potential cover in central defence? It's a position which has raised some question marks this season and It was where Vieira started his career.

    Central defence is the position where Mancini can take advantage of Vieira's reading of the game, experience and combative nature, should he need to.

  • Comment number 96.

    I remember viera as a real complete midfielder, he could run the game, break up play, start of attacks, even finish them. There is no doubt he was one of the greatest midfielders to play in the prem.

    There is no chance he will play that role for man city, for a start it was the way arsenal played that made viera so effective, man city dont play in the same way and after so little football and the inevitabilities of age he wil not have the engine or the pace.

    I can only see him playing a deep role as you say Phil protecting the back four. He may get found out against the real pacey players but whether he will do a job or enough of one to get into the team will be the biggest question.

  • Comment number 97.

    Are man city trying to recreate an arsenal team, maybe they like the way arsenal play and want to recreate it.

    And with all the money they have they see the easiest way to do so as buy as many arsenal players (past and present) as they can.

  • Comment number 98.

    wishful thinking, I believe

    Mancini's stuck in Italy, Viera clearly isn't fit enough to handle the PL - but I guess it depends on your view of success, City may be happy with a dressing room leader who can only handle two games a month

  • Comment number 99.

    Wenger sold Viera just as he was passing his peak, and four years later he has lost fitness and skill. Having said this I wouldn't mind citeh wasting more money ....

  • Comment number 100.

    Viera didn't stand to to toe with Keane in the tunnel. He stood toe to toe with Gary Neville then shrank away when Keane got involved. That was just before a match in which Arsenal got soundly beat.

    He's great when things are going well which is why he'll be a nice solid squad player for City against the 'lesser' teams ... but he's not the battling hard man that he's made out to be. If my memory serves me correctly, he's one of the shirkers who'd clock in but not work the shift on a cold winter evening away at Bolton or Watford.

 

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