No one likes us but we don't care, says Milner

City new boy eager to prove 'jealous' critics wrong – starting at Wigan today

It is hard to begrudge James Milner his Manchester City pay-day now that it has come. A long and tortuous domestic career has been the source of such upheaval that his first eight seasons in senior football never started and finished with the same manager and he certainly has no good reason to remember a fair few of them.

It was after relegation with Leeds in 2004 and a move to Newcastle that Graeme Souness claimed that – to paraphrase one headline – "Kids like Milner will get me the sack". There is also a painful story of how Glenn Roeder, Souness' successor, agreed to sell Milner to Aston Villa, then changed his mind. Milner arrived in the Midlands to receive Roeder's decision from Martin O'Neill and was apparently in tears when he turned his car around and returned north.

But this difficult journey means nothing to those who have a mind only for where Milner has alighted – the most wealthy club in the land – and who want nothing more than to see the 24-year-old and his club trip up, particularly at locations like Wigan where they play today. "I haven't been at the club too long but I would have thought it is ... jealousy with the money and opportunities the club has because of the owner," Milner reflected. "But to be honest, it doesn't affect us what people outside the club think."

City's stop-start opening to the League campaign – one win in four fixtures was not a part of the script before today's visit to a place where they have never won a Premier League game – has kept Roberto Mancini in that perennially unnerving state, a couple of games away from crisis. Milner believes the £130m summer spending spree may not elicit full rewards for a few games yet. "It will take a bit of time to hit our best because we've a lot of new players," he said. "But hopefully it will take games rather than months. We've been unlucky the last couple of games. We just want to get there as fast as we can. The more time we spend together, the sooner we will click."

The midweek 2-0 victory over Salzburg bore out that hope, with the paeans of praise for David Silva reflecting the first evidence of his stellar ability. But Milner also senses that the kind of dressing-room camaraderie – which saw a poster of Nigel de Jong's notorious World Cup tackle on Xabi Alonso pinned up on the day Silva arrived – is permeating the club, now the assembled band of new arrivals are merging. "There is always banter flying about and it's a really good atmosphere. One day people will have a go at someone's clothes, then their taste in music. It is great to be among that. We've got some overseas players in the dressing-room, but we've got that spirit."

Milner said that he felt Randy Lerner's ambitions for Villa had receded when he made his decision to leave the Midlands. "The club were just that tiny bit short of getting to the next level," he said. "We needed to bring players in, but it became clear from Randy Lerner that they might have to sell to buy."

Mancini may start him on the left side of a three-man attack today, though the same berth Fabio Capello has settled him into for England is not his preferred one. "I think it does help if you play in one position all the time, you get settled and into a rhythm and being comfortable," Milner said. "I think the middle [of midfield] is where I play my best football. It suits my attributes best, things I have in my game like my energy."

Sacrifices have always been a part of his sporting life. "I enjoyed playing cricket as a boy and played for Yorkshire at the ages of 10 and 11 as a wicketkeeper/batsman," Milner said. "It is something I enjoyed but obviously you get to a stage where you have to make a choice." Now central midfield, where he flourished most at Villa, might be sacrificed. "If it is an asset to the manager and the team that I can play in different positions, I'll accept playing where I am picked."

Though City's new captain Carlos Tevez has scored five goals in his last six League appearances against Wigan, Milner knows many neutrals will be hoping that Wigan's win at Tottenham has galvanised them. He has had far worse than that to contend with in his career. "If we can point to silverware, it won't matter if it makes people happy outside City fans, we know we will have done our jobs," he concluded. "That is the biggest thing. We don't care about anything else."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
News
Bobbi Kristina Brown, daughter of the late singer Whitney Houston, poses at the premiere of
people
News
people
News
The frequency with which we lie and our ability to get away with it both increase to young adulthood then decline with age, possibly because of changes that occur in the brain
scienceRoger Dobson knows the true story, from Pinocchio to Pollard
Voices
The male menopause: those affected can suffer hot flushes, night sweats, joint pain, low libido, depression and an increase in body fat, among other symptoms
voicesSo the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Life and Style
health
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

The haunting of Shirley Jackson

Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin
Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen