City’s ‘Best Ever’ is simply magical

El Mago, Merlin, The Magician – David Silva is all of these and more – but it was Pep Guardiola who astonished Manchester City fans by pulling the proverbial rabbit out of the hat against Crystal Palace.

The City boss created his own illusion of smoke and mirrors when The Wizard from Gran Canaria suddenly appeared on the team sheet…as if by magic.

Best Ever – David Silva is widely regarded as Manchester City’s best ever player…and he should be at the Etihad for years to come. Great graphic by Stiz of our BlueRoom sponsors.

Silva, City’s most influential player and, in many people’s opinions, the best ever to wear the club’s sky blue, had all but been ruled out by injury at the pre-match press conference, along with fellow favourite, Sergio Aguero.

As the match day line ups were broadcast on the City Square big screens, the ripples of delight and surprise were palpable – no longer was it a case of Gabriel Jesus being City’s saviour – here was ‘Spanish Dave’ making his 200th Premier League start.

Silva Assault – Craig Pawson didn’t even see fit to book Arsenal thug Gabriel who kicked El Mago out of the FA Cup semi final, the Manchester derby and the Middlesbrough away fixture.

It was another Gabriel – Arsenal’s less than angelic Gabriel Paulista – who had cynically made El Mago disappear a fortnight previously at Wembley.

The dirty Brazilian defender scythed Silva down in the opening minutes in the FA Cup semi final, ultimately forcing City’s creative playmaker off injured after just 20 minutes.

In that moment, City’s FA Cup Final aspirations effectively went up in a puff of smoke and, without Silva’s silky sublime skills, City failed to pick apart not just the gruesome Gooners, but also the Trafford Troglodytes and most recently, the Neanderthals of Middlesbrough – thankfully, soon to be relegated.

Two minutes on the clock and it was 50 Not Out for El Mago.

Just 120 seconds into the lunchtime kick off and Silva was sprinkling his stardust on the Etihad turf, shattering Sam Allardyce’s ‘crystal’ all over the shop and slotting in his 50th City goal.

With two Premier League titles, two League Cups and an FA Cup on his CV and two years – hopefully more – to run on his City contract, Silva is set to be City’s most ‘decorated’ player.

Rising stars like Gabriel Jesus will benefit from Silva’s magical vision and passing ability.

As Pep’s City Revolution really kicks into gear in 2017/18 and beyond, who would bet against the midfield maestro adding to his haul of domestic honours…and then there’s the small matter of Champions League glory.

Internationally he’s achieved more than any City player in history as a World Cup winner and twice lifting the European Championship trophy.

It’s always going to be subjective and nigh on impossible to truly compare, like for like, City’s greatest over the years.

Imperious – Colin The King – but David Silva has now surpassed him in the eyes of many City fans.

Colin Bell – The King – would be the pick of many who had the privilege of seeing him in the glorious Mercer–Allison era, but an increasing number are now acknowledging Silva as the superior player…especially, when you consider the very best may yet lie ahead. Others make compelling cases  for Yaya Toure or Sergio Aguero to be considered.

The mere presence of Silva gave the team, and fans alike, a massive boost as City romped to a 5-0, five star performance, with five different goal scorers.

Good Kompany – Vinny is surrounded by his ecstatic team mates as his renaissance continues with 2 goals in 5 consecutive starts.

Vincent Kompany’s renaissance continued with a fifth consecutive start and a stunning strike for City’s second goal.

There are many who feared Captain Fantastic’s City career was over after a litany of injuries, comebacks and false dawns, but here he is, commanding the back line and providing inspirational leadership.

Who’s to say Pep hasn’t himself played a blinder by keeping Kompany back all those weeks, despite the declarations that Vinny was fit and available for selection?

Inspirational leader – The Captain is well and truly back.

Guardiola has, only today, said City will be seeking a new centre back in the summer as part of the overhaul of the defence, but that won’t be to replace Kompany, more likely to play alongside him.

What a mouthwatering prospect – a back three of Kompany, Stones and someone of the calibre of Leonardo Bonucci or Virgil Van Dijk.

Rock & Solid – Kompany and Otamendi were supreme against Palace.

That might seem harsh on Nicolas Otamendi after he produced his best display of the season.

The Argentine was rewarded in the dying seconds with his first goal of campaign after producing a Man-of-the-Match standard performance, sealing the win from Kevin De Bruyne’s 15th assist of the season.

Nice one Otto – City’s Number 30 heads in goal number one of his season in the dying seconds.

KDB, now playing a deeper lying midfield role, managed to get himself back among the goals – only his sixth of 2016/17 – but bear in mind he is probably the unluckiest player in England this season, having hit the ‘woodwork’ nine times.

De Bruyne also has the most assists in Europe’s top five leagues since 2014/15 with 44 one more than Lionel Messi and two more than Luis Suarez! Not too shabby.

KDB scored his sixth goal of the season before getting his 15th assist when placing the ball on Nicolas Otamendi’s head.

Raheem Sterling weighed in with his 10th goal of the season to take City’s league tally to 70 – just two behind Chelsea and one shy of Tottenham – and this from a team universally acknowledged as being profligate in front of goal.

Perversely it bodes well for a City side that will be better schooled in Pep’s tactical requirements, and stacked with superior personnel in the future.

Prodigious talent – Gabriel Jesus scores a late equaliser for City at Boro.

Prior to kick-off the ‘pundits’ were talking up a Palace side which had beaten Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal in recent weeks.

Once the 5-0 demolition was complete there was a strangely predictable change of emphasis from the so-called ‘experts’ – an injury depleted and weakened Palace, had simply given City ‘too much room’ and failed to ‘…let David Silva know they were there…’

Back on form – Leroy was back to his best and a constant threat to Palace.

What a pathetic sentiment, albeit one that worked so admirably for Arsenic Whinger at Wembley two weeks beforehand.

So much for the beautiful game.

Fixtures against Leicester, WBA and Watford are now all that stand between automatic qualification for the Champions League – three wins and the Sky Blues are home and hosed.

Injured Sergio Aguero could be back in contention for City’s run in as they aim for a top three finish.

Anything less than Champions League qualification – especially from hereonin– would be nigh on unforgivable. Undoubtedly there have been disappointments in Pep’s debut season, but there’s every reason to believe they will be dwarfed by the achievements yet to come.

Nine more points will provide the necessary platform – that’s when the magic really begins.

  

By David Walker

www.readbutneverred.com @ReadButNeverRed @djwskyblu

 

14 Comments

  1. May 8, 2017  9:09 pm by Doug Henshaw Reply

    Having been privileged to see both Colin & David play David gets my vote as the best ever in the blue shirt. The man in full flow is a joy to watch for me he doesn't get the praise he should. Haveing a fit Vinny is in deed like haveing a new player in the team, how we have missed that guy. Let's keep the momentum going now & win every game till the end & deny the bin dippers 3rd & hope rags lose in the europe league.

    • May 8, 2017  11:32 pm by David Walker Reply

      I'm in the same boat as you Doug. I always believed that Colin Bell would be the best player I ever saw in a City shirt, but then along came David Silva.

  2. May 8, 2017  9:35 pm by Paul Barber Reply

    Love Merlin but if Buchan had not destroyed Bell's knee we would be unanimous in hailing Nijinsky as the best player ever seen by City and England. Still my hero and remember waiting outside Maine Road after he made his long awaited return against Newcastle. That was the hardest part, watching the most graceful, lung bursting, central midfield player struggle to get up and down the pitch. Bumped into him a few times since, usually alongside Skip, and I still get butterflies speaking to him. We have been blessed with some great players in blue, red and black or green and yellow. We are lucky that choosing the best creates so much debate.

    • May 8, 2017  11:34 pm by David Walker Reply

      Great sentiments Paul and if, as you say, Colin hadn't suffered that terrible injury there's no doubt City would have beaten Liverpool to the title in 1976/77 and who knows what that team could've achieved. We would have been better than Bob Paisley's much vaunted, all conquering Liverpool.

  3. May 8, 2017  9:42 pm by Will Reply

    Great read. I am feeling positive, but we do so rely on Merlin for our spark. We would definitely have beaten Arsenal with him and the worry is that teams will kick him out of games, just like they also try to do to Hazard. He is definitely my all time fave City player. Colin is always the King despite hardly seeing him play. I wonder how many assists he had. Anybody care to guess? I hope Merlin becomes our Xavi, plays for ages and lifts the CL 3 times!

    • May 8, 2017  11:38 pm by David Walker Reply

      Many thanks Will. Yes, we are too reliant on Silva and that's been shown in the last few games. Still, I'm sure Pep has the matter under scrutiny. Interesting point about assists - I wonder if there are any 'anoraks' out there who can possibly conjure up those sort of stats? Silva still has two years to go on his contract - I believe with an extension in the air - why shouldn't he play until 34/35 years at City?

  4. May 9, 2017  1:07 am by Paul Reply

    I myself am to young to have seen Colin Bell but remember another magician Ali Bernarbia albeit at the end of his career and in a team which well was not a patch on the present. Silva for a small man must be made of steel the knocks he gets as that's the only way teams can defend against him. The past few years have been very exciting but I feel a little wee come when I think of the business that will happen this summer then watching just what may be the best City side we have ever seen playing in the sky blue shirts. Great read as usual David.

    • May 9, 2017  8:03 am by David Walker Reply

      David Silva is always targeted by opponents who try to kick him out of every game. God only knows the punishment he's taken on his ankles over his career and yet he just gets on with his magical skills and making things happen for City. He's been with us for 7 years now and contracted for another 2, personally I hope he's at the Etihad for at least 10 years and he'll more than double his City medal haul already accumulated. If Pep and Txiki get it right in the summer transfer window then we will be challenging for absolutely everything in a big way. Thanks for reading and commenting. Go Team PG ;-)

  5. May 9, 2017  8:39 am by Doug Reply

    Agree with Paul. Let's not dispute who is better, Bell or Silva. Both great players in their own style and we are blessed that they played for City. Wouldn't it have been great if they had played in the same City team?

    • May 9, 2017  10:47 am by David Walker Reply

      A Silva-Bell combination would've been pure gold for City :-)

  6. May 9, 2017  7:38 pm by Pete Reply

    re the 76/77 side. I think that's harsh on Colin Viljoen the poor guy trying to fill "Nijinksky's" boots. He sadly looked like a small man in clown boots. He tried his best though. Best player of all time Barry Silkman for me.

    • May 9, 2017  9:10 pm by David Walker Reply

      Even after 17 years you can still spout tripe better than most :-) Regarding Barry Silkman being the best player of all time...would that be playing poker, tiddlywinks, snap, shove ha'penny - the permutations are endless? Thanks for reading and that nugget of a comment.

  7. May 9, 2017  9:51 pm by Pete Reply

    Seriously though a bit like trying to comparing Asa Hartford to Yaya. Bell had it all he could run, tackle, head, pass, defend and score. Silva has finesse and vision. He also works hard and his tracking back goes under reported. For me Bell was the best all round and if I could pick only one it would be him. At the end of his playing days he was still a better centre half on one leg than than most of the cloggers we have today. Different world though and different conditions... and whats wrong with Silkman; Allison said he was class so he must have been.

    • May 10, 2017  12:07 am by David Walker Reply

      Fair comment. The kernel of the article was to state that David Silva is, in my opinion, already City's best and will go on to become even better under Pep Guardiola. It is nigh on impossible to compare and contrast players from different eras as football in the modern day differs so much from yesteryear - the fitness levels, sports science, nutrition, playing surfaces...not forgetting the fiscal rewards. Nonetheless, it's a piece I felt needed writing and at least it's sparked a healthy debate among the fans.

      Now what about Joe Corrigan and Claudio Bravo? :-)

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