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A Conversation with City Legend Richard Dunne

Bitter and Blue had the distinct pleasure of picking the brain of one of the most important players in club history.

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No matter who you talk to, Richard Dunne is objectively considered a Manchester City club legend. The defender joined the club from Everton prior to the 2000-01 season when the team was in dire need of reinforcing the backline. Though he was originally brought in to strengthen the right back position, he is most well known for being a rock in central defense for years. Ultimately, Dunne would stay with City for close to a decade, making 345 appearances in all competitions and scoring 7 goals during his tenure. He served as captain from 2006 until his departure and shepherded the team through the final years before the new ownership group came in. He was unquestionably a favorite among fans and players alike. Born in Dublin, Dunne also featured for the Irish national team from 2000 to 2013.

Bitter and Blue had the great honor of asking Richard some questions last week about his thoughts on the current state of Manchester City. This interview took place prior to the League Cup final so the first couple questions about that match should be read with that in mind. Though Richard didn’t get his prediction right for the final, I’m pretty sure no one guessed it’d end 0-0 after 120 minutes. Anyway, without further ado, here’s our conversation with Richard Dunne!

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Do you think the Pep Guardiola’s players will have the right mentality going into Sunday’s League Cup final after beating Chelsea by six goals so recently?

“Pep wants to win trophies, no matter which competition. Every competition he goes in to, he has the desire to win. Sunday is a great opportunity for their first trophy, and you wouldn’t rule out a Guardiola team winning the quadruple, but it will be difficult, and mean they can’t have one slip up. They will turn over Chelsea again on Sunday, 3-1 I think.”

Do you think City will try to target Jorginho if he starts?

“If you look over the course of the season, Jorginho has struggled to make an impact and deal with pressure. The key for Chelsea is having Kante in the middle, and Maurizio Sarri will need to come up with something new against Man City to have a chance.”

As a central defender yourself, how impressed are you by the developing partnership between John Stones and Aymeric Laporte?

“This season, John Stones and Aymeric Laporte have played really well together, and are at a good age to build a strong partnership at Man City for a long time. We’ll probably see Pep go with his strongest partnership against Chelsea on Sunday, and Stones and Laporte will be the first choices. They bring a real stability and calmness to the team.”

As the current club record holder in Player of the Year, how long do you think you’ll be able to still claim that honor given this current collection of players?

“I was at the club before the money was invested. So it’s only a matter of time before a new player breaks the record. Every year they’re signing a world class player, who could be player of the year and have a real impact on the Premier League and Champions League. But that can also make it difficult with players coming in and out at the club.”

What positions do you think Manchester City will look to strengthen this summer?

“Two areas Guardiola will look to improve will be the full-backs. It’s been unfortunate with the injuries to Mendy on the left and they will want to bring someone in to rely on. On the right side, Kyle Walker has been excellent but he’ll need a bit of cover, and someone to help push him on with a bit of competition.”

Are there any players in particular you’d have in mind to reinforce those fullback roles?

“Chilwell would be a positive move for the club, and he’d help keep up the quota of English players at the club. He looks like a talented footballer. However, anyone that comes in as a left-back has to realise they won’t be an understudy, and due to injuries problems they will be playing regularly at Man City. It’s a great chance for him to establish himself at one of the biggest clubs in Europe.

Wan-Bissaka looked a very good player when he played the Etihad, he’s got great pace and gets up and down the pitch. He’s not as great on the ball as Walker, but defensively he’s excellent and very hard to beat. Playing with Kyle Walker will help him develop at such a young age, much like Chilwell it’s an opportunity they can’t turn down. With the chance to play Champions League football and learn under Pep Guardiola.”

Among all their quality, which player on City has really stood out for you this season?

“Laporte has been the standout player this season, he’s been excellent. He’s played most games, and looks the part. Not many players have got the better of him, and he’s very comfortable on the ball. With the way Guardiola likes to play he’s very important to the team. Him and Fernandinho have been the ones that have kept it steady at the back for Man City.”

What do you make of the improvements that Raheem Sterling has made each year he’s been at City?

“Raheem Sterling’s attitude is brilliant, he’s got amazing speed and technical ability. But this season he’s improved his finishing and his overall team play. When you’re signed for 49 million, you might think you’ve made it. But he’s improving year-on-year and has taken on board what the coaches have said to him.

He’s an outstanding professional and Pep Guardiola understands he’s a vital part of the team. Sane and Mahrez might interchange but Sterling will always be on the team sheet. His assists and goal-rate support the managers decision to make him an important part of the team.”

Speaking of Mahrez, how do you evaluate his time so far with City?

“Mahrez is in a transitional period at the club, much like Bernardo Silva when he joined the club from Monaco, coming with a big reputation. It takes time to adapt to the demands of playing under Guardiola, but when he gets the opportunities he performs.

He’ll be hoping to make a similar impact to Sterling, and for Mahrez there is no better place to learn, develop and win trophies. Mahrez will still be at the club next year, and will be an important player in the future. But he will need to come back bigger and stronger next season.”

Do you have any concerns with how Vincent Kompany’s transition into a more peripheral player will be handled?

“Vincent Kompany is an intelligent guy and he will understand his situation at the club. Man City have a player who accepts his role as a bit part player but even if he’s not playing he can still be very important for them in the squad.

They need to keep the history and tradition of the club. Kompany can be the person to help integrate new players into the squad and build a bigger future for the club. What he’s done over the 10 years, there’s no better man to make sure the standards are met at Man City.”

Being from Dublin and a staple in Ireland’s national team for years, how disappointing was Declan Rice’s decision to play international football for England instead of Ireland?

“As soon as Rice pulled out of the Ireland squad, it was obvious he’d picked England. The talk was for a better future and financial option choosing England, and not much Ireland could have done. He would have been the main player, who Ireland built a team around.”

“It’s a blow for Irish football, but he’d only played a few friendly fixtures, so it’s not like we ever had him. We could probably look at what could have been, but it’s disappointing. We’re always looking for players who could potentially play for Ireland.”

“When you picked for a country, for me, it’s black and white. You’re either Irish or you’re English and that’s who you play for. Not for financial reasons, but because it’s where you’re from.

Do you think Rice could be a good fit at Manchester City?

“Declan Rice is a very, very talented player and he’s doing well for West Ham. I’m sure Man City will be looking at him. The opportunity for him to go to a big club like Man City, and the fact he’s now an English player will be a factor. They’d do well in signing him.”

Everyone at Bitter and Blue would like to thank Richard Dunne for his contributions to Manchester City and also for taking the time to discuss the club with us. As a collection of City fans ourselves, it was a tremendous opportunity to do something like this. We’d also like to thank for sponsoring this interview. Hopefully more content like this will be available moving forward and any positive feedback from our readers will only make that more possible.

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