Gaël Clichy said the UEFA Europa League trophy would cheer up Manchester City FC fans disappointed by their exit as Joleon Lescott pledged to profit from lessons learned.
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Defenders Gaël Clichy and Joleon Lescott reflected on where Manchester City FC went wrong after their inaugural UEFA Champions League campaign ended early, despite victory over Group A winners FC Bayern München on Wednesday, as SSC Napoli beat Villarreal CF 2-0 to retain second place.
Clichy pointed to City's slow start in a tough group and Lescott to their "naivety" away from home but it was not all doom and gloom as Clichy set his sights on the UEFA Europa League title for Roberto Mancini's men. Bayern defender Jérôme Boateng, meanwhile, expects his old club to bounce back sooner rather than later while Jörg Butt is dreaming of the final in their own stadium.
Gaël Clichy, City defender
We have to give Napoli credit although I thought we did well – usually in the Champions League group stage with ten points you go through, and that tells you the group was tough. My dad always told me the first game is the most important one when you start a competition. At home I felt that with all the chances we created against Napoli in this first game [a 1-1 draw] we could have got the three points but the way Napoli played on the counterattack they do it really well, they have good players and I think they deserved to go through.
We did well, we won against Bayern Munich. We have to carry on working hard because we still have good things to do with City this year. We've seen the results tonight – you can see all those teams who didn't qualify like us, and today it looks like the Europa League is as tough as the Champions League. It is a big disappointment but it is a trophy still and I am sure if we can bring this trophy to the fans they will be more than happy.
Joleon Lescott, City defender
There was a little bit of optimism at half-time knowing the Napoli result but they're a very good team and deserved to go through. It's a great standard in the Champions League and maybe we were a bit naive away from home to go out there and try to win games so early; maybe if we contain teams a bit longer our quality will show and we can get goals on the counterattack. Next season if we play in the Champions League hopefully we can use our experience from this year and go on into the knockout stages.
Jörg Butt, Bayern goalkeeper
I think we can live with the result. It is important for these players [who do not start usually] to have practice on this level. City are a great team, they are first in the English league and it was a very difficult group. We played very well. We've played a very good season until now, we are also in first position in the Bundesliga and have a big dream to play the final in our stadium in Munich in May next year, though it will be a hard journey.
Jérôme Boateng, Bayern defender
We are a good team – we showed it [because] we are first in a difficult group. City go into the Europa League but they are a very good team and have so much quality and in the next years will be one of the biggest clubs in Europe.