Nigel de Jong is living proof that the art of tackling has not disappeared from the English top flight and he can’t wait to get back to displaying his craft.
The Dutch midfielder has been left out of the tour to China and Malaysia because he is only three days into his pre-season following Euro 2012 and instead will work on his fitness at Carrington with the rest of those who came back late after the summer.
“I’ve already had a few days with the team in Austria, but it’s always a good feeling to come back to Carrington.
“The internationals have all come back from the Euros, so it was good to see them as well,” he smiled after the welcome back at the training HQ.
The three days I was in Austria went well, no problems, and it was good to be back.
...Nigel de Jong
“I had a couple of weeks off in between, so I had a good rest, but it’s good to be on the pitch again. It’s always nice to see the ball again and just to have the smell of the grass and great to get back into training.”
The Dutch were highly favoured as potential Euro 2012 contenders, but they failed to win a single match in Poland and Ukraine and finished bottom of Group B.
“The Euros were disappointing for me because we went out in the group stage, but personally I had a good tournament, however the team effort was not the best,” said Nigel.
Putting that behind him, De Jong is gearing up for another season with City and insists he is ready for the manager’s rotation policy.
“The team is the main thing now,” he stressed.
“Obviously everybody wants to play for themselves individually, but it’s not always going to happen, because we have a big squad. But for the team we just have to go now and try and win as many trophies as we can.
“A lot of teams and a lot of people are going to look up to us after winning the Premiership and we are the team to beat at the moment. But for us as a group, we always keep it calm and we just have to focus on what we do best and that is to play football on the pitch. We just have to do our best.”
Sitting in the Carrington reception, below a newly installed picture of the team lifting the Premier League trophy, the 27-year-old looked up and smiled.
“It never gets boring to see that! It feels like a while ago now, but we want to do it again,” he declared.
“I’m looking forward to getting back into it and to new challenges and to see where we stand as a team for the beginning of the season.”