Football legend Patrick Vieira coaching youngsters at Zayed Sports City in Abu Dhabi on Thursday. Vieira said Manchester City’s continued success would have a positive effect on the growth of football in the UAE. Image Credit: Abdul Rahman/Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: Khaldoon Al Mubarak's vision is going to take Manchester City to the top of the English Premier League and beyond, according to the club's star football development executive Patrick Vieira.

Speaking to Gulf News in Abu Dhabi from the sidelines of the Etihad Airways Football Community Week on Thursday, aimed at coaching 500 local pupils between the ages seven and 14, Vieira said the ambitions of the club under their Emirati chairman were far reaching.

Aside from taking City to the top of the 2011/12 English Premier League, two points clear of Manchester United with 11 games left to play, Vieira said the club's continued success would also have a positive effect on the growth of the game in the UAE.

Vieira, 35, a winner of three league titles and four FA Cups with Arsenal as well as the World Cup and European Championship with France, said of Al Mubarak: "His vision is very exciting. It's going to take Man City to the top, not only on the field but also outside, through such community schemes."

The Senegalese-born, French national added: "The grassroots football community in Abu Dhabi is growing steadily each time I visit, which is good. Football in Abu Dhabi and the UAE is not as developed as in Europe, but each time I visit I see an improvement, which is great as there is potential here, from not only the players but the fans, children starting into the game."

Of his relatively new off-the-field role, Vieira said: "I've been coaching UAE school pupils for a week and it's been a gratifying experience. It's always good to see the smiles on their faces and see how passionate they are for the game, especially since I was as passionate when I was their age.

"It's very different from being a football player, where your main focus is on the field. Now I'm learning a lot of behind-the-scenes processes and attend meetings, meet different departments and see their perspectives on different ideas or issues. I try to bring my experience as a player to each discussion.

"The only thing I learnt the most is patience. Things take time to put into place and they can't always be rushed. That was also one of my biggest challenges."

Asked if City could continue their dominance in the England's top flight this season to claim their first league title in 44 years, Vieira said: "Why not? We have a high quality team, which is an important ingredient to success. But it's not going to be easy.

"It's definitely going to be dangerous to focus on one match [the Manchester derby on April 30] alone since there are still 11 more to go. But we will bring our best game each time not just against [Manchester] United.

"It's disappointing that we were knocked out [of the Champions League and FA Cup] but it's still important that we win the league. It will be fantastic if that happens as the league is the big target for us."