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Unread 17-10-2011, 10:20 PM
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Default Manchester City's David Silva heaps praise on manager Roberto Mancini

• Silva says Mancini has helped him settle in Manchester
• City looking for first Champions League win against Villarreal

David Silva had just been described by his manager as "one of the best players in the world" and, in a response that will either make Carlos Tevez's cheeks burn or strike him as toadying on a Gary "Sock sucker" Neville scale, the Spain midfielder put his outstanding recent form down to his happiness in Manchester.

"I am grateful for the compliment and also the faith the manager has shown in me," Silva said ahead of the crucial Champions League game against Villarreal on Tuesday night. "It is so difficult to change club and country and adapt to a different style of football, and it is down to Roberto Mancini that I have done so well. In my second season in England I feel more settled than ever, on and off the field, and that is down to the manager and his staff. It is because I am happy off the field that I am playing so well on it."

Manchester City have a single point to show for their first two excursions into Champions League football, against Napoli and Bayern Munich, and both Silva and Mancini realise the importance of posting a first win. Ideally they would be looking to take four, if not six, points from their back-to-back games against Villarreal in the coming weeks, but without three points from the game at the Etihad Stadium on Tuesday night there may be little use in looking too far into the future.

"It is a very important game for us," Silva said. "We are in a tough group and if we don't claim the three points there will be some distance between us and the teams at the top. We have found it quite difficult to reproduce our league form in the Champions League because we have only played twice, and both times against top teams. We need more games to get the same consistency, but most of all we need more points."

Silva, a former Valencia player, knows Villarreal better than most of his team-mates. "They are a great side who like to keep hold of the ball and hit you on the break. We will need to retain as much possession as we can and make sure they don't catch us with a counterattack.

"This is going to be quite a big week for the club, with Manchester United [to play] at the weekend. We are aware of that game, and the situation at the top of the league, but first we have to take care of the Champions League match. Villarreal is all we can think about right now."

Mancini said City are still learning in the Champions League, but must do so quickly. "We need only one victory and everything can change for us in the group," he said.

City have deliberately bought players with Champions League experience, such as Yaya Touré and Silva, to try to gain a winning mentality, and Mancini said he is not surprised that the latter is proving such a good acquisition. "I am just happy to be working with him.

"I remember when I first saw him playing for Valencia against Inter in the Champions League. He was only young then but you could see his potential. He was astonishing. He has improved a lot in the last two years and now he is one of the best players in Europe, if not the world. He could play for Real Madrid or Barcelona, but I am glad to say he plays for Manchester City."

Unlike Tevez at the moment. The Argentinian was the subject of a text-in on a Manchester radio station competition on Monday to be best summed up in three words. The winning entry: Complete wrong 'un .

Tevez did get a mention at City's pre-Villarreal press conference, courtesy of a Spanish journalist unfamiliar with the ground rules. Mancini took the question in his stride. "I prefer to speak only about people who are playing," he said.
Paul Wilson

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