RICHARD DUNNE insists he is not bitter and harbours no ill-will towards the club where he had been captain and four times player of the year.
“No, I’m not bitter, I really enjoyed it and I wish them all the success they can have. The fans have been fantastic to me there and they’ve been crying out for success for such a long time and now they seem like they’re on the brink of it and I hope it all goes really well for them. It’s a really enjoyable club, a family club and I just hope they get what they deserve.”
Dunne, however, also believes that Aston Villa are a club who can give his former employees “a run for their money this season”.
“It softens the blow that I’m moving to a side which has similar ambitions.
“Obviously, they don’t have the financial backing that Man City have, but we have a squad as good as most in the league.
“It’s difficult for Man City, because of the amount of players that have come in.
“So far, it’s been great and everything has gelled really well and the results have been really good. For them, when it gets difficult, there’s not really the bonding in the dressing room. It won’t be strong enough maybe when things turn difficult, whereas Villa’s squad is young and have been together for a while and they have the confidence of last year when they were fourth for a very long time and it was probably just the strength in depth which let them down in the end.
“It’s going to be a really open league this year and that’s why I feel we’ve as much a chance of getting fourth at Villa as you would have at Man City.”
City have so far declined to make any official comment on the charges made by Dunne, but last night sources close to the club denied the suggestion that he had been promised a testimonial. It is also understood that the player received a golden handshake upon leaving the club, believed to be in the region of £600,000.
More immediately, Dunne is hoping that tomorrow night’s game in Nicosia will help erase memories of the 5-2 defeat three years ago, during which he capped a miserable night for himself by getting sent off.
“I went there with Manchester City last year and they had pictures of the 5-2 game all around the place. It’s just there for them and it’s an inspiration for them. Each time they go out, they obviously know that they can beat us.
“People speak about revenge but for us now it’s about winning the game. We have a different squad now and probably a stronger mentality in the squad.
“We are three games away from finding out where we lie so we really need to pick up maximum points and give ourselves the best chance.
“We are desperate to win the game on Saturday. If that happens, then you can go into the final two games and really go for it. And leave a bit of room behind us.
“We feel we can beat anybody at Croke Park so if we can win in Nicosia it will really set us up.”
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved