A great bit of business from new Eastlands boss could be the spark the club needs to reach coveted Champions League spot.
The news that Patrick Vieira has moved to Manchester City may come as a surprise to some, but the move makes sense for both player and club. Roberto Mancini who oversaw Vieira to two Serie A titles whilst at Inter Milan has obviously identified the weakness in his team as having no discernible leaders, and certainly that may be true with so many youngsters in their squad. Bringing in someone of Vieira’s experience to go alongside Gareth Barry in central midfield, will give City some of the bite and maturity that they have too often been lacking this season. In the last couple of games, since Mancini’s appointment, they look like they have learnt how to keep a clean sheet, and with Vieira sitting in front of their back four, their defensive meanness can only continue.
Although not the player he once was, Vieira is still one of the best the Premier League has ever seen. Whilst not the box to box powerhouse that Arsene Wenger signed all those years ago, a player as intelligent as Patrick will always be able to adapt his game to suit his physical capabilities, and with having spent the past 5 years in the much slower cultured Italian League, he will have to adapt to the speed and passion of the English game again quickly. His legs may occasionally fail him, but his football brain never will.
The legendary midfield wars he once enjoyed against his old adversary Roy Keane may have long gone, but there are still plenty of tousles he will enjoy against the likes of Gerrard, Palacios and the young pretender to his throne whilst at the Gooners, Cesc Fabregas. In fact, even at the age of 33, it’s hard to see any central midfielder getting the better of Vieira when it comes down to a pure midfield battle, and whilst his discipline certainly used to depart him in his younger days, at a more ripe age, he will be more reluctant to get involved in the type of shenanigans which used to occasionally sully his game. His return to Arsenal in late April should see him receive a better reception afforded to Adebayor, but opposition fans will still try and intimidate and annoy him. Reputations remember, are rarely forgotten, and certainly the United and Spurs fans will reserve some particular vitriol for the former Arsenal captain.
Not playing regularly for Inter Milan this season, will have kept him fresher than usual, and at 33 whilst it’s hard to see him playing over the age of 35, Vieira still harbours a dream to play in a fourth consecutive World Cup, and this has already been identified as his motivation for the move. He may not be thinking of gaining success at Eastlands, but obviously would love to add to his 1998 World Cup Winners and 2000 European Championships Winners medal. Although with the French team not in the best form, and with a manager under increasing pressure, and with Man City in a Carling Cup Semi-Final, he may find silverware more easily domestically.
Arsene Wenger, a man who’s opinions are usually listened to, apart from when he’s being wilfully myopic about his own team, has commented that he thinks his former captain can still pose a threat in the English League: “Patrick needs to play,” explained the Gunners boss. “I was surprised about Manchester City’s interest because there were more talks about other clubs, but it would be a good opportunity for him.
“I believe he would still be very effective in the Premier League because he has been injury-free for three or four months now, and that is what he needed.”
Certainly the other teams in the pack chasing the top four finish will certainly have taken note of City’s new acquisition and perhaps Spurs who might have had a chance to sign Vieira in the summer, will be kicking themselves if the move proves to be a success. Mancini and City look to be building something, and with strength in depth, attacking options lacking in so many other teams, and now defensive and midfield capabilities bolstered by the signing of a true legend of the modern game, they may still have a say in how this season turns out.