Adios El Mago – City’s finest

Jordan Henderson winning the Footballer of the Year Award makes it all the more staggering, outrageous, pathetic – at this point you can choose your own adjectives – that David Silva has won next to no personal awards in his decade in the Premier League.

It isn’t intended as a pop at the Liverpool captain’s achievement – as subjective as it is since it’s voted on by football ‘journalists’, the majority of whom have ‘had it in’ for City for at least the past two years – but more, the criminal lack of appreciation, for one of the finest players ever to grace the Premier League.

If I remove the sky blue tinted glasses for a minute and look at the finest foreign imports to the top flight of English football, I’d have to concede the likes of Thierry Henry, Cristiano Ronaldo, Patrick Vieira and Eric Cantona all left an indelible mark. The question would be, did any of them do more than David Silva?

The answer can be drawn from his achievements, feats which more than merit his place among the elite of the elite.

In 10 years he’s won four Premier League titles, two FA Cups and five League Cups. He’s passed the ball 18,745 times – an average of 61 passes per game. When he first appeared for City – away at Spurs under Roberto Mancini – the general consensus, outside of the City camp, was that he was too small, too slight of physique to survive the rough and tumble of English football and its 100mph tempo.

They couldn’t have been more wrong. The wizard from the fishing village of Arguineguín in Gran Canaria thrived, with his stylish play and understated tenacity. Silva is a born winner and he’s won 70% of the 377 tackles he’s made in the PL. Hardly a shrinking violet.

Last August, Pep Guardiola described Silva as, “one of the best players I’ve ever seen’ – yet even though he earned 125 caps for Spain and helped them to two European Championship titles and the 2010 World Cup, he only won the Premier League’s player of the month award once in a decade. That isn’t Player of the Year – it’s player of a solitary month, out of the 90 or so months for which he would have been eligible.

If that isn’t scandalous enough, City’s midfield maestro has only appeared in the PFA Team of the Year twice. It’s impossible to fathom how there could have been eight seasons when a midfield trio or quartet, depending on the chosen formation – has contained higher calibre players than Silva.

It’d be easy to feed the justifiable paranoia that Silva has been discriminated against because he plays for City. He’s only ever been prominent in red for Spain. Had he been so for United, Liverpool or Arsenal, the muppets in the media would surely have been more inclined to tick his box, when it came to handing out personal gongs.

Silva, Merlin, The Magician – refer to the man who is arguably the best player ever to wear the sky blue of Manchester City, as you will – plays his final league match at an empty Etihad Stadium tomorrow. It will be his 309th Premier League game for City, thus far scoring 60 goals and providing 93 assists. He’s been on the winning side 213 times and tasted defeat on 50 occasions – an average of five per season – none too shabby.

I never thought I’d see a player surpass King Colin Bell in a City shirt, but El Mago has done just that.

Of all of his wondrous works – and there are so many from which to choose – the outstanding single moment has to be that exquisite cushioned pass, so deftly caressed from within the City half, placed with pinpoint accuracy into the path of Edin Dzeko, as he raced through to score City’s sixth in the 6-1 massacre of United at Old Trafford.

Such is Silva’s humble approach, it probably meant more to him than the goal he’d scored moments earlier, as he virtually passed the ball past a helpless David De Gea, into the bottom left hand corner of United’s net. 5-1 to City.

As one of City’s Centurions in 2017/18 – you know the only team in Premier League history to amass 100 points – David had to take time out as his baby son, Mateo’s life hung in the balance. Born prematurely, Mateo was fighting to survive in December 2017 and into the New Year. It was a time for true perspective as David played for City, between flying to and from Spain, to be with his partner Yessica and Mateo, in a Valencia hospital.

Pep told David to take as much time as he needed away from football. Family came first, but still David tried to play as often as he could during the most desperate and worrying of times. The fear of losing a child – and a newborn baby at that – is every parent’s worst nightmare.

As wonderful as it was to see City holding the Premier League trophy aloft as  2018 Champions, the most heart-warming sight was that of father and son – David holding a happy and healthy Mateo in his arms – amid the celebrations. David reflected that, at the height of his son’s medical struggles, playing for City came as a temporary release from the anguish and anxiety he was experiencing at the time.

Never one to seek the limelight or personal glory, his philosophy is engagingly self effacing: “I would like to be remembered as a good guy, who enjoys football,” he said. “I hope the people enjoyed my football as well. It’s simple.”

Tomorrow will see City chasing a few milestones against Norwich City. They need three more goals to hit the 100 mark, Kevin De Bruyne needs two assists to set a new Premier League record of 21, whereas Ederson either wins the Golden Glove outright, or shares it with Burnley’s Nick Pope, if he keeps a 16th clean sheet of the season.

The trio of achievements will be welcome, but events will inevitably be overshadowed by Merlin’s final disappearing act from the Premier League. He goes of his own accord with City insisting a contract extension is still there to be signed, if he so chooses.

It’s unlikely, but hopefully not as unlikely as Silva still having four more games left in his City career before the final adios. If he can help City negate the threat of Real Madrid on August 7th, then play his part in three wins in Portugal next month, he would complete his medals haul by becoming a Champions League winner.

Accomplishments on the field of play count for so much more than those subjective accolades based on opinion and no little bias.

David Silva has proven himself beyond all measure to be remembered and revered as one of the best of the very best of all time. He’s right not to be bothered by those not fit to lace his boots.

By David Walker

Dedicated to a True Blue going through a difficult and painful few days. Get well soon Guvnor.

www.readbutneverred.com @ReadButNeverRed @djwskyblu

Bespoke graphics by Liam Stiz Stirrup.

30 Comments

  1. July 25, 2020  1:36 pm by Richard Leonard Cooper Reply

    Cannot add to your super article.
    Remembered as a superb footballer and a Gentleman.
    Enough said I think.

    • July 25, 2020  4:56 pm by Janet Riddell Reply

      Superbly written article David. The media and those alike should take a long hard look at themselves and learn from the truths you have written about in my opinion, the most overlooked, underrated player ever to grace the Premier League. You could teach them a thing or two on how to write an article with meaning and truth 💙

      • July 25, 2020  5:04 pm by David Walker Reply

        Thank you so much. We love El Mago but it's incredible/ridiculous how he has never attracted a populist vote outside of the City support base. The reasons are obvious, but blatantly unfair on an individual who is the embodiment of talent, professionalism, sportsmanship - an absolute star in every conceivable way.

  2. July 25, 2020  1:49 pm by Malx Reply

    A fitting tribute to a true football genius. It's almost inconceivable that we won't be there to cheer him on his final league appearance, with Pep taking him off before the final whistle to garner the support and love the City fans have for him. I trust the City hierarchy will make good their promise to invite him next season for a sendoff in front of his adoring fans.

    • July 25, 2020  2:02 pm by David Walker Reply

      Absolutely - Merlin deserves the full testimonial works after 10 fantastic years. We'll have to be well clear of Covid 19 because it has to be a full house at the Etihad. Thanks MG.

  3. July 25, 2020  2:08 pm by Doug Henshaw Reply

    Another superb article David, you've said almost everything there is to say about this wonderful person. For me he's the finest ever to wear the blue shirt, I would love him to sign an extension for another year or longer. He will be so missed not only from football but in general as a person he is so humble and has time for everyone. I like many City fans will be sad that we can't say a proper goodbye to this magnificent person. David Silva I thank you from the bottom of my heart for all the joy you have bought to the club and I wish you all well for the future. I think tomorrow a few tears will be shed at the end of an era. Hopefully he can go and pick up the champions league as his last act in a blue shirt.

    • July 25, 2020  2:32 pm by David Walker Reply

      Wouldn't that be a way to bow out! I'd love him to take up the option of a year long extension, but it seems unlikely, especially at this late stage. It's been a pleasure and privilege to watch him for the past decade. It'll be strange not having him around. That said Phil Foden at nearly 15 years his junior is continuing his already glittering career - 2 Premier League winners medals already and hopefully so much more to come. Thanks as ever for your comments.

  4. July 25, 2020  2:28 pm by Andrew Bissell Reply

    What a beautifully written article David, littered with astounding statistics, and an insight into the personal life of this City hero, as he has overcome a mountain of worries. Love for football is only dwarfed by family love, and this man has shown both in copious quantities.

    • July 25, 2020  2:37 pm by David Walker Reply

      El Mago is magical in so many ways. It has truly been a privilege to watch him for 10 whole years and life won't be the same at the Etihad without him. We just hope there's one great big finale ahead for our Captain in Portugal next month. Thanks for your kind feedback.

  5. July 25, 2020  3:11 pm by Stiz Reply

    Always a great read, but that was out of this world!

    • July 25, 2020  4:42 pm by David Walker Reply

      Aided and abetted by some great bespoke graphics - I need to edit and give you the credits. Thanks fella.

  6. July 25, 2020  3:34 pm by Paul Barry Keys Reply

    The accolades such as world class or legend are used far too often and have become watered down and meaningless, I gave someone a bag of crisps at work and was told I was a legend! I did reply that standards appeared to have lessened as when i was a lad you had at least to pull a sword from a stone and rule a kingdom or suchlike! however I digress all I will say is this, City and myself are emotionally linked, they lift me to the highest highs and on occasions have driven me to despair and whilst there is a great sadness in my heart at the impending loss of David Silva this is balanced by the sense of beauty that he has brought to my (footballing) life, for this last decade has been beyond my imagination and David Silva has been at the centre of it all. David Silva you are truly World Class, truly a Legend and quite simply The Best to ever wear a City shirt. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for gracing our great club with your presence and may you and your family know peace and love for the rest of your days............ we love you dude!

    • July 25, 2020  4:44 pm by David Walker Reply

      And so say all of us. What a great tribute - better than the blog! ;-)

      • July 25, 2020  6:25 pm by Paul Barry Keys Reply

        thanks David, high praise indeed from a wordsmith such as yourself and appreciated CTiD :-)

  7. July 25, 2020  4:47 pm by Dave Leyland Reply

    Shedding a little tear reading this David, as always eloquent and beautifully written

    • July 25, 2020  4:52 pm by David Walker Reply

      We'd have been crying the proverbial river tomorrow had it not been for Covid19 - the Manchester Canal would have found a new tributary streaming in from the Etihad. Thanks for your kind comments.

  8. July 25, 2020  5:23 pm by Phil Reply

    You deserve a medal for this article🙂

    • July 25, 2020  5:34 pm by David Walker Reply

      A labour of love - but thanks all the same.

  9. July 25, 2020  5:48 pm by Will Reply

    True legend in every sense. 1 more goal or assist for a combined 200 in a City shirt. To think I was disappointed that it was Silva we signed from Valencia rather than Villa. The strange thing is that pundits do rave about Merlin (and Kun) and find it equally strange that more individual awards have not been forthcoming. There should be a special player of the decade award with his name on it of course. It’s about time the PL recognised players like Merlin (and Kun, Barry, Milner etc) for their remarkable achievements. He’s top 4 Spain scorers of all time and 2nd in assists. More goals than any bar Villa, Raul & Torres more assists than Iniesta or Xavi. The Spanish really appreciate him. Quite strange tomorrow as we hope for 4 more games. One thing I know for sure is that there will be lots of grown men crying after he is finished at City for good.

    • July 25, 2020  7:39 pm by David Walker Reply

      Yes, tens of thousands of grown men might have something in their eye at some stage. Additionally we can but hope for tears of joy in August.

  10. July 25, 2020  6:38 pm by Steve Barker Reply

    Love this piece David, El Mago deserves all the accolades for what he has done whilst playing for City a true legend been a pleasure to watch and will be sadly missed.

    • July 25, 2020  7:37 pm by David Walker Reply

      They don't come along like David Silva very often, but that said, we are blessed to have KDB, Foden and Bernardo. Thanks fella.

  11. July 26, 2020  12:09 am by Susan Bookbinder Reply

    Your writing always conveys the passion and love of City fans David, but this is particularly evident when you feel the injustice at the heart of the matter. I hope David Silva sees this beautiful and yet fearless tribute so that he knows how we feel.

    • July 26, 2020  9:53 am by David Walker Reply

      El Mago knows perfectly how we all feel, he knows we've adored his football, felt his pain and anguish during his dark days and rejoiced with him in the multitude of highs we've enjoyed over the past 10 years. We have been truly blessed by his presence over the last decade. Thank you, as ever, for your generous feedback.

  12. July 26, 2020  1:53 am by Rick Taylor Reply

    In 2011 I won the last pair of 'Golden Seats' (if you remember them) I went with my wife for the full VIP treatment, highly recommended if you can. We we're followed around for the day by the CityTV crew and we'd just beat Sunderland 5-0. One of the questions I was asked was 'How much did I enjoy the game?' My reply was 'I just watched David Silva for most of it.' That stands today, a master of movement and finding space that seems not to exist. Thank You El Mago, Merlin, David.

    • July 26, 2020  9:56 am by David Walker Reply

      Your thanks are echoed and endorsed by every City fan. David Silva has been truly magical.

  13. July 26, 2020  9:24 am by Pete lynch Reply

    Wonderful piece this, thank you.
    It's been a privilege to have him at our club and we will be so missed. A true legend.

    • July 26, 2020  9:55 am by David Walker Reply

      There'd have been a few tears at the Etihad today if we'd able to bid him farewell from the Premier League in person. Hopefully 5 more wins for El Mago before he departs. Thanks for your comments.

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