Reuters - Manchester City midfielder Yaya Toure says he was "unfairly" criticised last season for a perceived dip in form but insisted he could not care less.
The Ivory Coast captain was at his marauding best against West Bromwich Albion, scoring a brace in his club's Premier League opener on Monday. "For me, I'm quite surprised. Last season was not the best season for us, but second in the table, I think, is not bad at all," the 32-year-old was quoted as saying by the British media.
"There has been a lot of criticism about me but it was not a bad season. Twelve goals and I won the Copa (Africa Cup of Nations) for my country. It's not bad at all. "I know what I want, I know what I have to do. I don't care what people are saying about me," he said.
One of the most dominant players in European football when on song, Toure insisted he was "not back", as had been widely reported. "I've always been there. People have to understand football is not talking about one player, it's about the team. I hope this year is going to be fine for us," Toure said.
"The important thing is we have a target. That is to bounce back like we did two seasons ago. The Premier League is very tough. There's a very long way to go. There's 37 more games, we want to be fully aware of all that's coming," he said.
City host champions Chelsea at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday and the importance of the match is not lost on Toure.
"We have a massive game on Sunday against a direct rival. I hope it will be a good one for us," the former Barcelona player said. "Sunday is going to be tough again - after that we have Everton. I think it is a strong start. We are fully focused this year."