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Dunne and Barton hit-out and challenge the squad

Ahead of the biggest game of the season later today and the newspapers this morning are hardly paining a picture of a happy camp at City at the moment.

Joey Barton has been claiming that some of his teammates do not share his own ambitions, and talking to Sky Sports he said:

"I want to win trophies, I want to play in the UEFA
Champions League and I want to play in the European cups. "I want to play at the
highest level and I want to test myself and I don't think anyone can have any
qualms with you for wanting that.
"Whether it's this season or next season
we all have to strive at this football club to achieve it, every single one of
"There's no point me wanting to achieve it and ten others not, and I
don't think that's the case.
"I think at the minute it's a case of five or
six wanting it and five or six not.
"I think as soon as we get the playing
field level and eight, nine or ten wanting it then we'll start achieving

However, it is perhaps Richard Dunne's comments to The Observer which are perhaps more scathing:

'We are not scoring enough goals and two or three
players are going missing when things go against us,' he says. 'At home, in
particular, we seem to go into our shells, or at least some of us do. That's the
disappointing thing. We are not a good enough team to win games with just seven
or eight players, we need everyone to pull together. We can't afford to have
players hiding. I feel let down by certain people and I'm sure the manager does
too, but it's not his fault. The squad is not big enough for everyone to be
pushed and when that happens you get people operating in a comfort zone.
'When a manager only has limited funds to spend on new players, the ones he
does bring in need to hit the ground running, and that hasn't happened either.
Foreign signings are always going to need time to adapt, but at this stage of
the season you need to be giving 100 per cent. It should be a matter of personal
'We go to Blackburn as underdogs and we are away from home so to some
extent the pressure is off, but in the league we have got a really hard run-in.
We are not going to be able to survive just by picking up points from bad teams,
we are going to have to beat some good teams. We've got to

Whilst The Times has a similar piece, but adds:

"Managers live by their transfer deals. I’m sure the
manager feels let down but it’s not his fault if the personal pride in a player
is not there." I don’t think we’re scoring enough goals," Dunne said. "I think
there are a couple of people going missing during games. And we’re not

good enough team to have just six or seven players turn up every weekend. We
need 11, 14 players putting effort in. If your skill isn’t holding up the least
you can do is put the effort in.
"There’s the likes of Joey Barton who you
know you can rely on to be there fighting every week, but there’s others who go
into their shells. It’s a lack of self pride and they need to understand in
their own minds what they’re doing. They’re hiding from the rest of the team."

Whilst not uncommon for Barton to speak his mind, it is quite rare for Dunne (even as captain) to be very vocal in the press - and even less so for it to be with a critical tone.

I don't think he is particularly the type to stir up trouble within the club, and perhaps, ahead of such an important game and stage of the season, he is playing a little psychological game here and aiming to throw down a challenge to the team as a whole that it is time to stand up and be counted.