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May 12, 2011

Richards predicting big things for City

Micah Richards believes Manchester City will improve further next season - and predicted they will match Tottenham Hotspur's achievement in reaching the last eight of the Champions League.

• City eye Cesc and Zlatan

Tuesday night's 1-0 win over Spurs at Eastlands secured a first-ever season in the Champions League for Roberto Mancini's men. And now Richards wants the club to challenge for the title next season.

Richards, who is likely to be on international duty with England Under-21s at the European Championships, said: "I've watched a lot of Champions League football. I watched Spurs and they did well getting to the quarter-finals. There is no reason why we shouldn't do that.

"I am sure we will invest and make ourselves even stronger again. Every club needs new players and we always look to strengthen in every position. We're not the City of old, always making silly mistakes, any more.

"Every year we have had a progression. Last year fifth and this year fourth. Next season we will try and build on that again. It's just amazing, unbelievable. I've always dreamt of playing in the Champions League - now I'm going to have to pinch myself to realise it has really happened.

"To have the chance of playing against the world's best players is incredible and I can't wait."

Richards believes the players have now proved the doubters, who claimed they had only joined City for the money and not for any sense of achievement, incorrect.

He said: "We have proved them wrong. We are not stupid. We hear what people say. They are always having a go at us for spending money. But look at us, it's worked. People are always saying the team spirit is not good but it's unbelievable.

"A lot of people were putting us down and saying we were not good enough to reach the Champions League, but we have proved them wrong. We have proved how good we are by staying in the top four through the entire season.

"I don't know if people appreciate how far we've come. It takes a lot to catch up on the teams who have been in the top four for a long time. We can build on this and challenge for the title.

"We are relieved that gaining a top-four place is done and dusted. We rode our luck at times against Tottenham on Tuesday night, but we dug deep in the second half and that shows how far we have come. A couple of years ago we probably would have lost that game. But we are not the City of old, the team who always made silly mistakes.

"Now it is important to keep our feet on the ground and win the FA Cup. Stoke are no mugs. I watched them play against Arsenal last Sunday and they were unbelievable. They worked for each other. They have quality on the wings in Jermaine Pennant and Matthew Etherington - who may come back from his hamstring injury to play in the final.

"So if we are not on our game then Stoke will find us out. They will be up for it, like we will. And if we play as well as we can and David Silva continues to play like a magician, we've every chance of being able to celebrate again on Saturday."

Richards also says he has no intentions of leaving City even though his current contract expires at the end of next season, when he will be eligible to move on a free transfer having turned 24 in June 2012.

"There have been talks about a new contract but at the moment I am just trying to do well in each game," he added. "I am always happy to be at Manchester City. It is my first and only club. It is the club for me. Yes, there have been some difficult moments and I have been linked with a move to different teams. But when times are hard it makes you work harder.

"I am still young. I have played more than 150 games and therefore I have a bit of experience now. My focus is here. As long as the club want me, I want to be here and doing well for the team."

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