IT WASN’T a case of Celtic’s on-loan winger Patrick Roberts suggesting that English football’s glitterati wear a particularly expensive brand of cologne. The teenager does believe, though, that the elite players he trained with at Manchester City following his £12m move there from Fulham last summer do give off a certain something.
“You can tell the ability that’s there, as soon as I walked in the door. You can almost smell it off them,” he said. “You sense they are world-class players and it’s a joy to train with them. In the first week they did test me a bit but I got in amongst them, so I think they realised I could play a bit of football. I wasn’t there just to make up the numbers. I’m a serious player.”
The serious decision to vacate the Etihad for 18 months to continue his development in Glasgow isn’t one he was left to question when he thinks of the League Cup final his parent club will contest against Liverpool this afternoon. Or the fact that it was youngsters a-go-go in the team selection that Manuel Pellegrini made for the FA Cup tie away to Chelsea last Sunday. Never mind the 5-1 defeat made for a sobering afternoon for the clutch of untried City academy players.
“Those boys were in the elite development squad with me. You look at that but it’s only one game,” he said. “You want to look to the future and get a few games here. I can go back there with more experience and become a better player.”
Roberts did not feature in Friday’s 1-1 draw at Hamilton but produced a bright cameo the previous weekend in the 3-0 win over Inverness Caledonian Thistle. The sense of expectation over what is expected of him with his pedigree and price tag does not weigh heavily on a confident individual.
“I felt a buzz. It’s very similar to playing at the Etihad, given they are two massive stadiums. You can feel it when you come on. The crowd gets behind you. It’s a high-pressure situation but it’s not a case of being nervous. It’s more excitement.”
Roberts appears excited about where his pace and trickery can take him and the 18-year-old is in no doubt City see him as a future first-teamer. “City were interested in signing me from the age of 16. They wanted me to join at that stage but I didn’t think it was right for me at the time so I stayed at Fulham. City spoke very highly of me and said they knew what I could do. I also knew what I could do, as did my family and friends. I believe in my ability and that one day I’ll play down there.
“You have to believe in your ability and produce every day in training. You can’t just turn up and go through the motions. There are world class players there who have won the Champions League and things like that. You have to be at your game every day to compete with them. If you can there’s no doubt you can make it in that team.”