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'Don't defend, just attack!' Micah on the 6-1 win

Micah Richards saved one of his best – if not the best – performances in a Manchester derby.

The former City defender, now with Aston Villa, played in numerous games against the Reds during his 13-year stay with the Blues.

During that time, he clocked up 245 appearances and became a firm crowd favourite before eventually moving to Villa Park on a permanent deal in 2015.

He remembers the highs and lows with clarity – and some games more than others!

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“Coming through the Academy and to when I came through to the first team and for a number of years before that, we always struggled against United,” said Richards, 30.

“It was only the last season and Maine Road and sort of from the first season at the Etihad that things started to change.

“I remember us beating United 4-1 and 3-1 at home, but we hardly ever won at Old Trafford. Then we went there in 2008 and won 2-1 – the first time for 34 years – and since then we’ve been on a par with United if not better in the Manchester derby.

“After being the underdog for so long, I think City fans always went into the derby thinking the worst, but 2011 changed everything.

“It was as though all those years of pain and disappointment when we were getting beaten were just wiped out in one fell swoop.”

 

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City’s memorable 6-1 win in 2011 has been written into Club folklore.

It’s a day no City fan will forget and despite all the goals and sparkling performances, it was Richards who won the man-of-the-match award for a swashbuckling display at right-back.

“To come away from Old Trafford having won 6-1 was unreal and despite me getting it, my man-of-the-match was David Silva with James Milner close behind.

“I suppose the way the game panned out just fell in my favour.

“We went in a goal up at half-time, but as soon as Jonny Evans was sent off, everything changed for me.

“Roberto Mancini told me not to worry about defending, just go and attack and don’t worry about getting back.

“To hear that from an Italian manager was a surprise, because everyone assumes they will just want to keep it tight – but not this time!

“He told me the defensive shackles were off and to go out and enjoy it - so I did! I had no problem with that!

“I got forward whenever I could, and things went from good to incredible as the game went on.

“We went out and have a few drinks to celebrate afterwards and never looked back that season.

“I still look back on that as my best-ever season. I was 23, at peak fitness and I was at the top of my game.”

Despite his form at club level, most City fans thought it strange that Micah wasn’t rewarded with more England caps – particularly after City’s epic title triumph in 2011/12.

He won just 13 caps for England – scant reward for the performances during his time at City.

He said: “It was odd. Because me and Pablo Zabaleta were sharing right-back duties, there was no first choice as such and I was disappointed that I didn’t get a call from England to go to the European Championships.

“Then Stuart Pearce contacted me and asked if I would be interested in playing for Great Britain at the London Olympics. He’d given me my debut at City, so I said I’d be happy to do it.

“I could have been on stand-by for England, but I had already given my word to Stuart and wanted to take part in the Olympics.

“I would have loved to have played in Pep’s team and think I would have flourished under him.

“He demands a lot from his players, but his players play unbelievable football and he manages to get the very best out of them.

“I could have been part of the Yorkshire ‘Flat Cap Four’ with Fabian Delph at left-back, Kyle Walker at right-back and I’d have gone alongside John Stones in centre!”

 

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A knee injury has meant Micah has played little or no football for Villa since the start of the 2016/17 campaign.

He continues to work back towards fitness, but it has been a frustrating time for him.

He will be watching the derby on Sunday and after his playing career has ended, he says he will be a regular at the Etihad with son Rome.

He is hoping for a City win on Sunday but says it will be a tough game.

“I think City will have the majority of the ball and United will set up to defend and counter-attack,” said Micah.

“No derby is ever easy and it’s a fact that form going into the game means nothing.

“Mourinho is a great manager, too, and he knows how to get results in the big games, so I think this will be a difficult game.

“I make City favourites, but United will be dangerous on the counter-attacks.

“I’m a City fan and always will be. I joined when I was 14 and left when I was 27 so I’ve spent most of my career with the Club and the way I was treated and looked after during that time is something I’ll never forget.

“When I finish my career, I’ll get a City seasoncard for me and my son.”

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