Patrick Vieira confident over Manchester City's Champions League hopes

 

Patrick Vieira believes Manchester City are developing a winning mentality that can lead to Champions League glory.

Excitement is high as City begin their second successive season in Europe's elite competition with a trip to one of the game's true heavyweights, Real Madrid.

Last season's Champions League tilt ended at the group stage but Vieira, the World Cup-winning former City midfielder who is now the club's football development executive, feels they can go better this time.

Although the draw in Group D is a tough one, with Ajax and Borussia Dortmund also lying ahead, the Frenchman expects the experiences of last year to stand them in good stead.

Vieira, speaking at the launch of the 'PASS' education scheme, said: "I think when you want to win the Champions League, it is about how you as a whole football club respond to all the demands around.

"You need a winning mentality, and not just from the 11 players on the field - from the entire squad, from the staff working in the office, from those working at the stadium.

"Everybody has to go to this different level, because if you go to Madrid, or Barcelona - even to Manchester United - you have this mentality as a football club of winning big competitions.

"That takes time, and last year was our first Champions League competition.

"We learned a lot, and hopefully we will do better and you never know where we can go.

"I think when you saw Chelsea win the Champions League, that gives you belief and confidence that you can do it as well."

City have made rapid progress since their takeover by Sheikh Mansour in 2008, the peak so far being their Barclays Premier League title success last May.

Vieira, a member of the 2011 FA Cup-winning side, said: "It started with new players coming in, then the FA Cup, then winning the Premier League.

"The success is growing year after year and that is how you build a successful football club."

While other recent English champions Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal may now be experienced Champions League campaigners, there is still a huge sense of excitement and adventure around City's involvement.

Trips to the great venues of Europe such as the Bernabeu this week and Bayern Munich's Allianz Arena last season were unthinkable for fans even just a few years ago.

Despite that, Vieira sees no reason why City should not go to the Spanish capital with hopes of upsetting the Primera Division champions.

The former France international, 36, said: "Why not? I believe this is a really strong team.

"Of course it is not easy to go to the Bernabeu and try to get a result, but I believe with players like Yaya Toure, Sergio Aguero, Carlos Tevez, Vincent Kompany and Joe Hart, we can challenge any other team.

"I think the feeling with this group is excitement more than anything else because you are playing against Madrid, Dortmund, Ajax.

"Last year it was Bayern Munich - as a player you want to challenge yourself and the best way to do that is to play against the best, and I'm sure 100% that the team is looking forward to the game."

Patrick Vieira is the ambassador for the 'PASS' education scheme, which will start when the group stages of the 2012-13 UEFA Europa League get under way on September 20. The programme is set to turn every successful pass in this season's competition into funding to provide education for young people around the world. Over the next three seasons, Western Union Foundation has committed to fund one million days of education and one of the focus countries will be Vieira's home country, Senegal.

PA

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