For all the talk of "taking the brand global", for all the references to Abu Dhabi and its oil money, Manchester City is still fundamentally about Manchester. In the early days following Sheikh Mansour's takeover, there was much talk about preserving the role of the club's academy that then could claim to be among the most successful in the country. Stephen Ireland has been sold, Nedum Onuoha is on loan at Sunderland, Shaun Wright-Phillips is being touted around and Michael Johnson, perhaps the most interesting of all, has got lost in the wash.
With the Manchester derby looming on the horizon, that leaves Micah Richards, who although born in Birmingham and brought up in Leeds, has been associated with City since he was a teenager. "When Stephen went in the summer that was one less of us," he said. "But I think it's important for the club to remind people where it came from – at one point the academy players were keeping this club in the Premier League and it is nice to remind people what we are about."
What City are about seems to be a squabbling mass of underperforming egos, although from his place at the heart of Roberto Mancini's defence, the 22-year-old Richards reminds you that the club began the weekend in a Champions' League position and that footballers argue among themselves all the time.
Referring to the on-field confrontation between Emmanuel Adebayor and Vincent Kompany that marred a 2-1 defeat at Molineux eight days ago, Richards said: "There would be something wrong if you were getting beaten by Wolves and nobody was bothered. People say that footballers come to City for the money but that shows this is far from true. People want to play, they want to win and they are going to get fired up. When we are doing well, nobody says anything. When we have a bad result, suddenly we are not good enough." At the start of the campaign there were some at Eastlands who wondered if Richards was good enough for the kind of side Mancini wanted to create. "The club was bringing in a lot of players; people said it should not prey on your mind but it does," Richards said. "You get nervous and worry about your future.
"It was about getting my mind right. When I am happy off the field, I do better on the field. Sometimes, before,I was going into games and my mind wasn't right. I was thinking about things too much. I was distracted by all the players coming in; and in the media I was being linked to Spurs and Liverpool. I don't read the papers much but my mates do and they were starting to ask what was happening. I was a bit disenchanted by that. I wanted to stay at City, prove myself, and be part of the future here.
"When there was talk of me going to Liverpool at the start of the season, I spoke to some people at the club and they said: 'It is never going to happen, you are wanted here.' That was a massive thing for me to hear.
"When you look at Manchester United, at Giggs, Scholes and Neville, they have been there from a young age and every year they fight for their place and keep winning things. I'd love to do that at City – be here for 20 years, win every trophy and be considered a City legend; just as they are United legends. I love Manchesterand I love this club."
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