City, Liverpool will go toe to toe again, feels Richards
Last season's Premier League title race went down the wire
The sun was shining over the pristine Dubai skyline at The Palm Jumeirah but what was even more radiant and in all its splendor were six fine pieces of silverware. And gushing from ear to ear was former Manchester City right back Micah Richards, with these babies.
"I come here on a holiday quite a lot as well, but to bring the trophies this time, it's an amazing, amazing feeling," Richards told the Khaleej Times in an interview on Thursday.
Richards, 31, who retired from top flight football in July, is now the club ambassador and is on a whirlwind global Trophy Tour with the men's quadruple-winning Premier League, FA Cup, Community Shield, Carabao Cup, as well as two more titles won by their fairer counterparts - the FA Cup and the FA WSL Continental Cup.
And Richards is relishing at the prospect of seeing City going toe to toe with Liverpool again this season.
"I think it is going to be tight again. Liverpool have got a really good team but I think where Man City have the edge is just their squad is so good. They have lost two key players in (Aymeric) Laporte and (Leroy) Sane, John Stones coming back from injury as well, which is difficult. But, I really do believe that City are the team to beat. There seems to be a fear factor with City now. Teams don't even want to play them so, I think that's going to play a major part in what they are trying to do," felt Richards.
Richards said a surprise was unlikely with City and Liverpool taking their tussle to a different level.
"In football, you never can say never. Look at when Leicester (City) won the League few years ago. But I just feel that Liverpool and Man City are pushing each other so much now that it will be very difficult for anyone to break that at the moment," he said.
City have swept all before them in England but that Champions League has proven to be elusive. But Richards reckoned this could be the season where Pep Guardiola's men lay their hands on the trophy.
"Last season, we were unlucky, we went out on goal difference. We were a bit devastated and the fans in the stands were gutted but I do think it is coming. Every season, we seem to be getting a step closer. If we don't have any more injuries, I think we have a good real chance of winning it this season," Richards hoped.
Richards also had the last word on who is the best coach in the world, saying it was the present gaffer Guardiola.
"He has brought a beautiful style of football in England. A lot of people questioned him at the start thinking that he couldn't do it. And I know the first season was difficult but the second and third were amazing, record points, all that sort of thing. For me, he's the best manager in the world. And Pep just wants to win that Champions League now to show everyone this is why he's the best manager in the world," he said.
'Racism spoiling beautiful game'
DUBAI - Micah Richards urged social media platforms to tackle the menace of racism in football and also said that educating people would be another way to put a stop to it.
Racism has reared its ugly head yet again across football Leagues in Europe, with footballers subjected to online abuse and also on the field.
And Richards listed out a number of ways to control and perhaps even put an end to the problem.
"I think there are more platforms on social media where people can write things and get away with it. People who are in charge of these websites, need to do something about it. I think when people are writing these things, they don't understand what effect it is really having. They might just see it as a little bit of a joke but it's not a joke and if they are not told this, then how are they supposed to know? So, one needs to educate these people. On the field, something needs to happen because no one wants to see that in a game because it is spoiling the beautiful game of football," said Richards.
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