Pep, Sergio and City’s family silver

How do you refer to a man who’s scored 159 times in 203 starts and 37 substitute appearances for Manchester City in five- and-a-half seasons – including 23 goals in 2016/17?

Answers could range from sensational, exquisite, revered, goal-scorer, insatiable, one of a kind or, more succinctly…Sergio.

Sensational Aguero is in scorching form for City...and has been ever since he arrived at the Etihad in 2011. Bespoke Sergio image courtesy of Stiz and the BlueRoom.

Sensational Aguero is in scorching form for City…and has been ever since he arrived at the Etihad in 2011. Bespoke Sergio image courtesy of Stiz and the BlueRoom.

City’s Argentine pocket rocket Sergio Aguero has already achieved legendary status and is contracted to stay at the Etihad until 2020.

He’s a prolific marksman, one of the best players ever to adorn the Premier League, still only 28-years old and at the peak of his powers.

Stories, rumours and innuendo have been rife all season long, as to whether or not Pep Guardiola sees Sergio as an integral part of City’s future.

Pep has said he wants Sergio to stay. The club has said it has no intention of selling Sergio this summer. Sergio has said he wants to stay at City.

Give us a kiss - Blue Bromance for Pep and Sergio and here's hoping it lasts all the way through to 2020.

Give us a kiss – Blue Bromance for Pep and Sergio and here’s hoping it lasts all the way through to 2020.

Surely then, there’s nothing to discuss, no issue – Sergio is going nowhere, other than sticking around to win, and win big, with City and Guardiola.

Realistically, how many City supporters of sound mind, would want Sergio to depart any time soon?

But still the niggling worries and doubts persist.

The arrival of Gabriel Jesus – a prodigious talent and nearly 10 years junior to Aguero – has sparked speculation that the more senior marksman may fall foul of Pep’s changing of the guard at the Etihad.

Sweet Jesus - Is Gabriel a rival to Sergio or a strike partner? Only Pep can decide.

Sweet Jesus – Is Gabriel a rival to Sergio or a strike partner? Only Pep can decide.

Sergio only regained his starting berth after a broken metatarsal forced Jesus out of Pep’s first team plans, but he’s done everything – everything – that has been asked of him.

He replaced the stricken Jesus at Bournemouth and was unlucky not to have been credited with City’s second goal on the night.

Sergio’s touch was clearly going past Boruc in the Bournemouth goal, before a further deflection from Tyrone Mings (he of the head-kick to Zlatan’s ‘swede’ infamy) achieved the same outcome.

Fired up - Sergio celebrates City's second goal at Bournemouth and one that should have been his 155th for the club.

Fired up – Sergio celebrates City’s second goal at Bournemouth and one that should have been his 155th for the club.

Since then he’s started all five games against Huddersfield (twice), Monaco, Sunderland and Stoke, scoring five goals in the process. Pep even awarded Aguero the Captain’s armband in Wednesday night’s stalemate with Stoke.

Those questioning Sergio’s long term future at City claim he doesn’t do enough off the ball, to satisfy Guardiola’s high intensity style of play.

If ever there was a case to answer, his recent indefatigable showings, have surely put that argument to bed – he’s worked tirelessly, pressing opponents, tracking back and tackling.

On the volley - Sergio fires home City's equaliser to make it 3-3 in the stunning 5-3 comeback win over Monaco.

On the volley – Sergio fires home City’s equaliser to make it 3-3 in the stunning 5-3 comeback win over Monaco.

As City go into a crucial FA Cup Quarter Final at Middlesbrough this lunchtime, it’s worth rewinding to the 5th round tie away to Huddersfield, a game City could and should have had won by half time but, by the final whistle, could so easily have lost.

As ever, so many hopes were riding on the shoulders of City’s superstar striker as he spearheaded a weakened City line up.

But let’s look at it from Aguero’s perspective. He was playing as a lone striker, isolated up front and with very little by way of service.

Lack of Service - Sergio suffered a famine in the FA Cup 5th Round away tie at Huddersfield.

Lack of Service – Sergio suffered a famine in the FA Cup 5th Round away tie at Huddersfield.

Such is his stature, reputation and achievements with City, Sergio is a man expected to do something amazing, expected to score and expected to create goal scoring opportunities in every game.

He has demonstrated time and time and time again he can do wonderful things with the ball, but he needs a good service from the midfield and the wings…and a quick service at that.

Sergio's wingman - Exciting talents like Leroy Sane can create the space and supply the assists for Agueroto flourish.

Sergio’s wingman – Exciting talents like Leroy Sane can create the space and supply the assists for Agueroto flourish.

This requires sharp thinking team mates, pulling strings in midfield looking for runs off the shoulder of a defender.

It cries out for wide players hugging the touchline and making darting diagonal runs behind defenders, thereby creating the space for the striker (Sergio) to ghost into unmarked.

Space may have been the Final Frontier in Star Trek, but not so for Sergio. He only requires a miniscule amount of space to inflict goal damage on any opponent.

Trademark - Scintillating Sergio steals a half yard in the penalty area and scores against Sunderland.

Trademark – Scintillating Sergio steals a half yard in the penalty area and scores against Sunderland.

This didn’t happen against Huddersfield for three reasons, namely Delph, Fernandinho and Fernando. 

All did the same job on the day – they were ‘solid’ but predictable – quick enough to spot danger, but too slow to see advantage.

They feasted on simple and safe short passing patterns, but none of them had the confidence in their own ability to thread a ‘killer’ ball between the centre backs.

Sergio - You saw him standling alone...but he had the intelligence to try and change a stale City showing away at Huddersfield Town.

Sergio – You saw him standling alone…but he had the intelligence to try and change a stale City showing away at Huddersfield Town.

It meant a famine for Sergio.

The City midfield took to spraying 40-yard diagonal passes to a wide player – Navas – who constantly has his head down, leaving Sergio having to guess when and where the ball might be delivered into the 18-yard box.

Faced with this scenario what was Sergio to do?

Frustrated, he was forced to drop deeper and deeper to try and get on the ball and make something happen.

Challenging times - despite scoring 23 goals already this season, speculation persists over Sergio's City future.

Challenging times – despite scoring 23 goals already this season, speculation persists over Sergio’s City future.

As the ‘star’ man, he felt a responsibility to galvanize his team, but in doing so it pulled the team out of shape, making City look disjointed.

So why would he do that?

He did it to show his manager that things weren’t working on the pitch, that something had to change. Guardiola would have been more than aware and it showed that both striker and manager were on the same wavelength.

Goal-den Boy - Super Sergio is a key element of City's family silverware.

Goal-den Boy – Super Sergio is a key element of City’s family silverware.

In a match that wasn’t going well, it showed Aguero’s ‘football brain’ and his intelligence, something that wouldn’t have been lost on Pep.

Aguero’s clever, he knows how to change games with or without the ball, how to influence the bench with movement and body language.

He also knows what all the City fans know – he can win a game in an instant, if he has the right calibre of players behind him.

Deep thinker - Sergio is more than just a natural goal-scorer.

Deep thinker – Sergio is more than just a natural goal-scorer.

If it’s not working he’ll work his socks off to prove it and give an understanding of what will.

Without a doubt, Sergio is already one of the hardest working strikers in the Premier League, but Pep is a very demanding manager, always wanting more, his teams have to work, work, work, almost like no other.

What has become increasingly apparent in recent weeks is that Aguero seems to trust Guardiola and, after Huddersfield, it looks like the manager trusts him.

Super Frankie Lampard recently remarked that far from being at loggerheads with each other, Guardiola can actually make Sergio an even better player.

Super Frankie Lampard believes Pep Guardiola can, and will, help Sergio become an even better player.

Super Frankie Lampard believes Pep Guardiola can, and will, help Sergio become an even better player.

Such a prospect must strike fear into the hearts of every defender in the Premier League and Champions League alike.

City are in the embryonic stages of what promises to be a glorious new era, one that could and should include a hungrier Sergio Aguero, a version that can and will prove any doubters wrong.

At Barcelona Guardiola had Messi and David Villa working in tandem. At Bayern Munich he had Robert Lewandowski and Thomas Muller, so why can’t Pep deploy Sergio with Gabriel Jesus?

Together - Pep and Sergio can take City to dizzying new heights in the next three years.

Together – Pep and Sergio can take City to dizzying new heights in the next three years.

Why do all the so-called pundits say City’s frontline can only accommodate one or the other?

There’s a school of thought – misguided – that Aguero is on the wane and, that with the arrival of Jesus, it may be time to cash in.

Football is a hard-nosed business with little room for sentiment.

All smiles - Why would Pep want Sergio to leave City this summer?

All smiles – Why would Pep want Sergio to leave City this summer?

If you consider Juventus paid Napoli £80m for Sergio’s Argentine compatriot, 28-year old Gonzalo Higuain, in 2016, who’s to say any sale of  Aguero wouldn’t command a world record fee in excess of the £89m+ paid for an under-performing French midfielder?

Pep is on record saying he puts an emphasis on buying exciting young talent, players who will truly blossom under his guidance – players such as Paulo Dybala,  another Argentine striker, who at just 23 years of age, is earning rave reviews at Juventus.

Could Paulo Dybala of Juventus be a 'bargain' £38.3m transfer target for City this summer?

Could Paulo Dybala of Juventus be a ‘bargain’ £38.3m transfer target for City this summer?

Dybala is reported to have a £38.3m buyout clause in his contract. Weigh that against a £90m+ outgoing Aguero and City are £50m+ up on a deal.

The big unknown is whether someone like Dybala – as good as he is – would flourish in the Premier League and emulate the achievements of Aguero?

Legend - Sergio 93:20 - AGUERRROOOOO

Legend – Sergio 93:20 – AGUERRROOOOO – SOS – Save Our Sergio1 Artwork by Stiz from the BlueRoom

Pep’s first season in England has been one of adapting to challenges the like of which he has never experienced in La Liga or the Bundesliga.

City’s Catalan boss said: “If I have no silverware, I will not be here for a long time. No silverware – it will not be a good season.”

Irrespective of winning any trophies this season – and he may yet – Pep is clearly already on a fast track to deliver sustained success to City.

A season without silverware is failure in Pep's world, so an FA Cup win at Middlesbrough today is crucial.

A season without silverware is failure in Pep’s world, so an FA Cup win at Middlesbrough today is crucial.

Nonetheless, it would puzzle and perplex the most devoted of Pep’s admirers if, in the pursuit of Champions League, Premier League and FA Cup honours, he decided to sell off City’s ‘family silverware’ in the shape of Sergio.

 

 By David Walker

Written in collaboration with fellow City fan Brian Entwistle – a man who knows a thing or two about football coaching and whose tactical acumen far outweighs mine!

 

www.readbutneverred.com @ReadButNeverRed @djwskyblu

 

8 Comments

  1. March 11, 2017  10:20 am by @lghualways Reply

    Could not agree more. I cannot wait to see Aguero and Jesus together. No right minded fan wants Aguero to go at any time. He has always picked up injuries and we finally have cover but that does not mean he is surplus. Could stomach the Hart saga but Aguero is a different matter. He remains one of those rare talents that you do not let go off if you do not have to

    • March 11, 2017  11:43 am by David Walker Reply

      Pep has demanded improvements in Sergio's game and he's delivered. Aguero is right up there with the world's elite strikers Messi, Ronaldo, Neymar, Suarez and frankly I wouldn't swap him for any of them bearing in mind his track record in the Premier League and age. Thanks for the feedback.

  2. March 11, 2017  3:44 pm by Doug Henshaw Reply

    Short & simple ( no i dont mean me or you lol ) Sergio to leave City ? NO For me hes the best player ever to wear the shirt, & i really think if City were even try to sell him there would be mass mutiny among us fans.

    • March 11, 2017  8:12 pm by David Walker Reply

      As much as I back Pep in just about everything he does for City - Bravo apart - I think you might have something there Doug. Thankfully it's looking as if it's all been part of Pep's man management strategy to get the optimum levels of effort and performance out of players - and it's working brilliantly with Sergio. PS: I'm 5ft 10...and a bit ;-)

  3. March 11, 2017  7:05 pm by Richard Cooper Reply

    Agree of course David. Pep to my mind has improved Sergio and strikers by nature of their game can and do get injured so I don't think selling him for whatever amount is a good idea because the goals he scores will financially earn City more over say 2 seasons than a 1 off "big" transfer deal.

    • March 11, 2017  8:15 pm by David Walker Reply

      It's not as if City need the money or are a 'selling' club. Playing Jesus and Aguero together would be exquisite in its own right, but we've been far too reliant on Sergio in the past. Far from selling our best striker, I'd like to think there's room for another upgrade on Nolito and Iheanacho in the next two summer transfer windows. Cheers RC.

  4. March 17, 2017  4:00 am by Zahar Abdul Rahman Reply

    Sergio Aguero is already synonymous to Manchester City. He's a City icon and a legend and still the best in the league. City had four strikers when Pellegrini was in charge and there wasn't any talk of him leaving then now, did it?. It's just the media trying to unsettle the player and the team.

    • March 19, 2017  7:24 am by David Walker Reply

      Let's hope that is the case and Sergio stays with City until 2020.

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