Vieira calls on refs to play fair with City
PATRICK Vieira believes the unique nature of the Premier League is in danger of being eroded by over-fussy refereeing.
Vieira produced some of the most memorable Premier League moments and his midfield battles with Roy Keane as the pair slugged it out for Arsenal and Manchester United were legendary.
However, after witnessing Vincent Kompany get sent off for a tackle on Nani during last month's Manchester derby that did not even make contact with the United winger, Vieira has come to the conclusion that those days are gone.
"The beauty of the English game, especially in the Premier League, is the speed, the passion from the players and the tackling," said the Frenchman, now a Manchester City ambassador.
"England is the only country in the world where fans in the stadium applaud the striker who has scored, but also the defender who wins the ball with a tackle.
"Now it looks like you cannot tackle anymore. The referees' body has to be really careful to not kill the passion of the game.
"If these changes to the rules mean there is more of a European pace or style to the Premier League, English fans could get bored and would not come to see the games."
There is a more personal aspect to Vieira's complaint.
Ahead of Sunday's trip to Aston Villa, where the Blues will try to consolidate their status as Premier League leaders, he has spoken out against the succession of calls that have gone against his club in recent weeks.
The dismissal of Mario Balotelli at Liverpool in November left manager Roberto Mancini grumbling.
And Kompany's red card was followed, days later, by Liverpool's Glen Johnson escaping punishment for a very similar challenge.
"I don't want to say everyone is against City but when you look at the last few decisions, you ask yourself if something is wrong, if people don't want us to win the league," said Vieira.