When United pulled clear of City I wanted to cry... Richards reveals torment

I have a say

Posted Wednesday, April 11, 2012 by Dailymail

Amid the apparent chaos of Manchester City's Barclays Premier League collapse, Micah Richards sits on a hotel sofa and laughs a long, deep, infectious laugh.

We are talking about City manager Roberto Mancini's man-management, in particular his habit of agreeing with the criticism that used to be aimed at Richards by former England head coach Fabio Capello.

Is it - I ask - Mancini's version of tough love? As Richards considers his answer, his boyish, all-teeth grin lights up the lounge of the Manchester Malmaison Hotel.

When United pulled clear of City I wanted to cry... Richards reveals torment
All smiles? Richards has revealed how difficult it has been dealing with the pressure this season

'Yeh!' he laughs. 'That's exactly it. Always, always . . . tough love! To be fair, he says the same with AJ (Adam Johnson) and Joe (Hart) and other people . . . but then Vinny (Kompany) is out and he gives me the captain's armband. So he contradicts himself!

'I don't mind saying I think I should play for England. I do. But then the manager says he agrees with Capello! If he's saying it as a joke, I would have been, like, "Whatever".

'But then he was actually serious when he said it so I am, like, "Come on, gaffer . . . I'm doing well . . . give me that extra bit of confidence . . . this is your chance".

But he goes the other way. That's just his way. It's his style. I'm totally cool with it. I know he rates me, really. He's been good for me. He wouldn't make me captain otherwise, would he?'

This two-minute extract from an hour-long conversation is typical of Richards and indicative of how he has grown up. Astonishingly for a player who made his City debut six-and-a-half years ago, he is only 23.

Confident, funny and self-aware, he wants to talk and, let's face it, there's lots to talk about.

Football can do strange things to the toughest of men. At his home last week, Richards experienced something new as he watched Manchester United beat Blackburn on television.

'At half-time and at 60 minutes I thought, "You never know",' he said. 'But United do always look like they will score. So I knew it was gonna come. But when they got it and went further clear of us, I actually wanted to cry and I haven't done that or felt like that in years. Football is full of emotions. You get angry and happy but I have never wanted to cry before.

'This time I did as that is how much it means. I have been grafting so hard this season, we have played unbelievable football and to see United come like this is horrendous. It kills me. I care so much about how I play and how we do in games. If things go badly in a game, I just can't sleep.'

Richards is drinking tea and looking back at a season that promised so much and is now beginning to look as though it will deliver precisely nothing. The City full back talks positively of his team winning their remaining games, starting at home to West Bromwich Albion.

But he is not stupid enough to pretend the mountain doesn't now look rather high. Richards is adored at City, by those inside the club and in the stands. His infectious personality and a longevity that ties him to City's less glamorous past are unique in Mancini's dressing room and all the more valuable for that.

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