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Micah Richards Exclusive: Mario Balotelli Set Fireworks Off In My House, I Tried To Race Adama Traore And Carlos Tevez Is Better Than Sergio Aguero

Micah Richards Exclusive: Mario Balotelli Set Fireworks Off In My House, I Tried To Race Adama Traore And Carlos Tevez Is Better Than Sergio Aguero

Multiple choices, one answer. No shirking. Micah Richards are you ready to play Versus? Let's go!

Premier League winners: Liverpool or Manchester City

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"At the start of the season, I would have said Manchester City. Just because I believe their squad is superior to Liverpool's but City have had some bad injuries. Aymeric Laporte is massive for them and obviously losing Vincent Kompany took a hit, but if you ask me right now, then Liverpool are favourites.

"But you can never rule Manchester City out. If they get to January, and there's three or four points in it, I back City to come and win it."

Best manager: Jurgen Klopp or Pep Guardiola

"Phoar. This is a tough question this one. I'd say Guardiola, just because of how much players have improved under him at City.

"No disrespect to Leroy Sane, I knew he was a talent, but he's come here and ripped it up under Guardiola - and Raheem Sterling has taken his game to the next level. Pep has pushed him every single step of the way. Bernardo Silva was also unbelievable last season, so I'd have to pick Pep because of the improvement in players. But obviously they are both top managers."

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Best centre-back you've played with: Rio Ferdinand or Vincent Kompany

"Ohh. This is tough. Oh my word. You know what, I know I'm City but, when I first broke into the England squad I'd not seen anything like Rio Ferdinand. He read the game well, he was good on the ball and could challenge when he wanted to.

"I think Rio just edges it, because he was better on the ball than Kompany."

VAR: yes or no?

"Yes. It's taking too long though. It's like a trial period at the moment and it's frustrating for everyone. If you go back to Frank Lampard's disallowed goal against Germany in the 2010 World Cup, had it been in play then, the game would have been totally different. I am in favour of it, but i just think at this moment in time, it's not working as well as everyone thought it would."

Image: BBC
Image: BBC

Party planner: Mario Balotelli or Robinho.

"Definitely Mario. 100%. Robinho loved a good party, they both did, but I just think Mario....was a better person to be around. He is funny and a great lad.

SPORTbible: "Have you got any mad stories about him?"

"He actually came to my house a couple of weeks before the fireworks incident and he set some off again in my house. was like 'you know you can't do this? What's going through your mind?'. He just thinks everything is funny. That's why I like him so much. He doesn't take life too seriously.

"The racist abuse at the weekend was awful. The bad thing about it was, their manager came out and said the fans didn't racially abuse him, and obviously Mario posted the video and you can hear the monkey chants. and it was crazy. These are the lengths people are going to to try and distract players.

"When I played in Italy (for Fiorentina), there was nothing. Maybe it was because I wasn't a big enough name. Mario is a big name, and he's from Italy, so that's the way they think they can get under his skin.

"The fans were amazing to me. It's hard because, when we're talking about Italy, we know there's a lot of racism but when I was in Florence, honesty they were the nicest people I've ever met. It's really sad that it's still happening."

GOAT: Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo.

"I have to say Lionel Messi just because I've played against Ronaldo and I kept him quiet on a couple of occasions."

SPORTbible: "Was it really that easy?" "I wouldn't say easy." Richards laughs.

"We went to Old Trafford and I played well against him whereas I couldn't get anywhere near Messi. He was different gravy. He drops into pockets of space that you don't want to be in. You think you've got him and then he just turns so quick. You can't have a plan for him. As soon as he gets the ball, just try and foul him. Stop him from getting into a rhythm. That calibre of player. It's just impossible to stop him.

"They are two of the greatest players of all time, but I'd say Lionel Messi is harder to play against."

Wind up merchant: Paul Dickov or Joey Barton?

"I'd have to say Joey Barton. Dickov is a wind up merchant but Joey is crazy. He's actually good at everything. He was good at pool, head tennis....he always had that banter where he doesn't know when to stop. He kept pushing and pushing - but he was so good at everything and it was actually quite annoying.

"He definitely knows his stuff. I didn't think anyone would take a chance on him as a manager, but it's great to see him doing well."

Speed Demon: Theo Walcott or Gabby Agbonlahor?

"Gabby is more powerful but Theo Walcott was more elegant. He would just glide across the field. But I'd have to go with Gabby. When he was 18 or 19 years old, I'd not seen pace like it.

"The only person I've seen that is quicker is Adama Traore at Wolves. He is the fastest I've ever seen on a football pitch by far. I tried to race him one time and he absolutely left me for dead. I think if he practiced he could become a 100m runner."

Image: PA
Image: PA

Midfield playmaker: Scholes, Lampard or Gerrard?

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"Playmaker? I think Gerrard is the best all rounder but I'd say playmaker wise, Paul Scholes.

"Frank Lampard obviously got into the final third a lot, making those late runs, but actually starting the play, Scholes' passing was incredible. I only played against him because he retired quite early in terms of his international career but playing against him was ridiculous. He would always find that pass."

Sweetest victory: Aguero moment in 2012 or the 100 point season for City.

"It has to be the Aguero moment. You couldn't write it. I just couldn't believe it. I was devastated in a way though because I played all that season and I did my hamstring so I didn't play the last four or five games. It was a bitter sweet moment."

Stuck in a lift with: Joleon Lescott ot Joe Hart.

"Wow. Harty is my boy from day one. We've had some great nights together but me and Joleon would bounce off each other. He'd produce more banter. He's a great lad. We're currently doing some stuff at City together as well - I can't say what it is, but you should tune as it's going to decent."

Goalgetter: Carlos Tevez or Sergio Aguero?

"Sergio as he scores more goals, But all round player? I'd have to say Tevez. He is the better player. 100%.

"He used to link it up, play down the side and he could play up front, a number 10, even a midfielder. He's one of the best players I've played with. If he was in Manchester City's squad right now, then he would be unbelievable. He carried us. The season before we won the league, to get into the top four, he carried us. We loved him when he arrived.

"The season when we won the league, he went on holiday for two or three months, when he did the goal thing? He came back and in his first game he scored a hat-trick. He was overweight and out of shape at the time, but his natural ability was amazing and that shone through."

Image: PA
Image: PA

Manager: Roberto Mancini or Sven Goran Eriksen?

"Mancini."

SPORTbible: "That was quick!"

"Although he could be a nightmare at times to work with, because he was such a perfectionist, if you weren't doing your job, he would tell you. You know those headteachers you were scared of making a mistake around them - that's what Mancini was like but he got the best out of us. To win a Premier League against the likes of Wenger and Ferguson, was an unbelievable achievement."

SPORTbible: "You know what I remember most about Mancini, on that last game of the season against QPR, he was shouting "f*ck you, f*ck you on the touchline!"

"He was that sort of guy. That's what I mean. He wears his heart on his sleeve. He is such a passionate guy. He loves football and loved to try and get the best of his players. He worked so hard for that moment. It was all unravelling before him until Sergio and Dzeko's goals.

"Dkeko deserves credit. He was one of the most underrated players I've ever played with. He really was. Left foot, right foot. Just look at him at AS Roma now. Sergio was our main man and Mancini loved Balotelli so Dzeko didn't start as much as he should have done. Every time he played though, he was great. Great touch. He scored some really important goals as well."

Toughest opponent: Ryan Giggs or Gareth Bale?

"Bale. Just because with Giggs, if he got past me, I could get back, whereas Bale, if he got past you, there was no chance of catching him.

"There was this one game at White Hart Lane, and Gareth Bale tore me to shreds. The game ended 0-0 because Harty was unbelievable that day. I have never played against someone who skinned me that many times. Normally, because I was physical and fast, I'd always get back and put a tackle in not with Gareth Bale. That time he was just on a different level.

"I would have taken him at Manchester City before we got Leroy Sane and Bernardo Silva. I still think he's got a lot to give. All this thing going on about his bad attitude is wrong. He is one of the nicest guys you'll ever met."

Micah is part of the BBC's football team. Follow the 2019-20 FA Cup on the BBC across TV, radio and online.

Topics: Football News, Football

Jack Kenmare

Jack Kenmare is a writer at SPORTbible. He's interviewed some of the biggest names in sport, including Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Pele, Carles Puyol and Tim Henman. He dabbles in all things sport but football is his biggest passion. He was once hit in the head by a wayward strike from Nicky Butt and lived to tell the tale.

 

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