New Fiorentina defender Micah Richards has claimed he was not given a fair opportunity by Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini and fears the club’s young players could face the same fate, The
Richards agreed to spend the season on loan in Tuscany as he bids to put a forgettable spell in his career behind him, and aims to return to the level which saw him gain 13 England caps and be selected to represent Great Britain in the 2012 Olympic Games.
Richards spent 12 years with City, but has seen his chances increasingly restricted as he has competed with the likes of Pablo Zabaleta and now Bacary Sagna for the full back berth. It is this lack of opportunity that prompted him to accept the move to the Viola.
“I don’t have any bad feelings towards [Manchester City]. They put me on the map and gave me a chance when I was 17,” said Richards. “But I do have bad feelings towards the playing time (I was given). For any player, when you’re not playing it’s frustrating. When Roberto Mancini was in charge, he would rotate the full backs. When we won the league in 2012, I played more than Zabaleta. So, I feel as though I could have been given more chances to play (under Pellegrini). I felt like I had improved and that I could do it at that level.”
City’s financial power has seen them fill their squad with seasoned internationals in recent years, at the expense of home grown players, and Richards is concerned that this trend could continue, stifling the development of local talent.
“It’s going to be hard for them to come through. If you look at the squad now there’s 22 international players,” Richards said. “You’re going to have to be extra special to get through. Hopefully, the new facilities they are building will help to bring young players through. It would be nice to see more coming from the academy, but the standard’s pretty high now. The manager always said if you’re good enough, you’ll get a chance. I hope he sticks to his word. But I decided I wanted to go somewhere where I had the opportunity to be No 1.”
Richards revealed that he had opportunities to remain in England. An offer of a new five-year contract was tabled by City, and West Ham also made an approach with a loan deal. But once the interest from Italy became something concrete, Richards’ mind was set. Citing the tactical and technical nature of the game in Serie A, Richards confirmed he hoped to improve these aspects of his game, and admitted he was always interested in playing abroad, unlike many of his compatriots.
However, there was some sadness in leaving Manchester behind. “Leaving City was always going to be sad after 12 years, it was hard for me to leave because I know nothing else but Manchester City,” he said.
Richards and his new Fiorentina team mates face Genoa at the Stadio Artemio Franchi on Sunday.
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