Belfast Telegraph

Manchester City still need time to team up, admits De Jong

Nigel de Jong insists Manchester City are still a work in progress and that is why the team's performances have been indifferent.

The Holland midfielder is looking for an improvement tomorrow when they face Reading in the quarter-finals of the FA Cup.

The game has taken on greater importance in City's quest for a first trophy in 35 years after the events of Thursday night.

A 2-0 defeat by Dynamo Kiev leaves them facing an uphill task in their bid to progress in the Europa League. City posed little of an attacking threat while manager Roberto Mancini claimed both goals, from Andriy Shevchenko and Oleh Gusev, were preventable.

De Jong believes the match was a good learning process for City.

He said: “We have a lot of individual qualities in the team but it takes time to get together as a team.”

However, he is convinced City have enough about them to reach the last eight of the competition.

“You have to be confident. They were at home with their 12th man and now we hope to get our 12th man, our fans, to help us win the second game,” said the former Hamburg midfielder.

“They were a good team and were waiting for the counters. They played defensively and waited while we played our game.”

Meanwhile, West Ham manager Avram Grant thinks that signing Demba Ba and Robbie Keane has helped put Carlton Cole on course to break his current goalscoring record.

Cole has returned just 21 goals in his first three years at Upton Park but he has notched five goals in his last six appearances to take his tally to 11 for the season, one short of last year's haul which was the highest in his career.

Grant reckons the January arrivals of Ba from Hoffenheim, and Keane from Tottenham, have helped Cole sharpen his game.

Ahead of tomorrow’s FA Cup quarter final with Stoke, he said: “Competition makes you stronger. Look at Carlton Cole before the competition and look at him now.

“He has scored a lot of goals in the last month which is very good so it will do good for us and the other players and I believe in this.”

Ba has grabbed all the headlines by scoring four in four since his arrival, but Keane's signing has arguably been just as important.

“He is a good player to have in the dressing room as well and I just hope he will be fit and OK now,” added Grant.

Belfast Telegraph


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