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Jan 3, 2012

Dzeko happy to share the spotlight

Edin Dzeko may have played more than ten hours of football without scoring a goal, but the big striker remains convinced he can fire Roberto Mancini's men to the Premier League title.

City have endured a miserable Christmas as a 0-0 stalemate at West Brom was followed up by the shocking 1-0 defeat against Sunderland at the Stadium of Light on Sunday, with Dzeko among those coming under fire for failing to provide a finishing touch to a host of spurned chances in both games.

However, criticism has been a familiar part of the Dzeko diet in his time in England and the Bosnia-Herzegovina frontman insists he will rise to the challenge of leading a star-studded City strikeforce that has suddenly started firing blanks.

Dzeko kicked off this season on fire with a four-goal haul in the mauling of Spurs and also impressed with two goals after coming on as a sub in that 6-1 thrashing of Manchester United at Old Trafford. His latest dip in form may be worrying some of the Eastlands faithful, but Dzeko says it is nothing when compared to the misery he lived through in his first six months as the club's £27 million misfit striker.

"I have to admit it was very tough for me in the opening few months in Manchester because everything was so different and I wondered if I could ever adapt to what was expected of me," begins Dzeko honestly.

"First there was the need to settle in a different city, begin to understand a new way of life and then the football was so different as well. Every game in England is a real battle, the pace of the game is tough to get used to, and my confidence was not there at the start. I also had to understand how the referees worked in this country, as they allowed much more physical contact than I was used to in Germany.

"You feel the need to prove yourself in a team full of so many stars and the attention is all on Manchester City right now. We are the team that everyone talks about for spending so much money and you don't want to be the guy who falls short in this story.

"So I decided to find some positives last summer. The way I looked at it was that I was a part of the first City team to win a trophy in 35 years and that was a sign that I must have contributed something to this club and this idea inspired me come back with a fresh attitude.

"Thankfully, the goals came for me and people could see why City worked so hard to get me at the club. Some of the football we have played this season has been fantastic and now we all believe we can win the big prizes."

Amid all success in the opening few weeks of this campaign, Dzeko was also a co-star in the darkest moment of City's season - he reacted angrily to being substituted against Bayern Munich, the night on which Carlos Tevez infamously refused to warm up and take part in the high-profile Champions League game.

While Tevez has worked tirelessly to dig himself into an even deeper hole over an incident that will ultimately end his City career, the more respectful Dzeko offered an instant apology to his manager and he is backing that up with a glowing tribute to Mancini.

"What happened in the Bayern Munich game was just an example of me feeling frustrated on a night when things went against me and I didn't mean it to look like any mark of disrespect to the manager," Dzeko explains. "You have to realise what that Bayern game meant to me. I made my name at Wolfsburg and wanted to make an impression as I returned to Germany for such a big match.

"It did not work out for me and I lost my cool when I was taken off. I apologised straight away for my reaction and can say now that I have nothing but respect for Mancini and all that he has given to me. He was the manager who made big efforts to let me realise my dream and play in the Premier League and hopefully I am beginning to repay him now.

"There is still more to come from me this season and even though the big wins at Tottenham and United were very special, we know that this Premier League always has another big battle just around the corner.

"You only have to see the effort every team puts in against us to realise this is a competition that does not have too many teams you can beat with any comfort, especially away from home. This league is so tough, so competitive. That's why the Premier League is so difficult to win."

Dzeko has emerged as one of the favourites to be crowned the Premier League's leading marksman for this season as he shot out of the blocks in impressive fashion, yet he has failed to score since the 3-2 away win at QPR on November 5, with his drought stretching back 11 games for club and country.

Such a run may have sparked a sense of panic in Dzeko a year ago, yet the thick skin he has developed ensures his confidence will not be shaken too severely as he accepts his role as part of the bigger picture at Manchester City.

"Part of the reason City can be successful this season is the depth of our squad and this means I will not play every week," he says. "I'm not the star of this team, no one is. The great thing is that we have players scoring goals from all areas of the team, so we are not relying on just one main scorer.

"Sergio Aguero has settled so quickly at City and then we have Samir Nasri, Adam Johnson, Mario Balotelli and David Silva scoring goals consistently as well. When you have so many attacking players, there has to be room for some changes in different games.

"This is why I say being top scorer in the Premier League was never an ambition for me this season. Maybe I will play some games and then sit out others, so I just have to try and score goals when my chance comes."

Now the questions are being asked of Dzeko all over again and having gone from zero to hero in 2011, he is eager to use the memories of his heroics in the first part of this Premier League season to inspire another revival in his fortunes in 2012.

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