There was a strange atmosphere on Sunday as a sell-out crowd watched the outrageously talented Manchester City midfield pass their way around a set of Chelsea mannequins on the way the easiest ever 1-0 victory.
Whilst Antonio Conte and his brand of anti-football took the headlines, the loudest cheers of the non-contest were reserved for two moments; the 46th minute Silva to Silva winning goal and the late substitution of City’s mercurial Spaniard. The standing ovation said everything about the esteem with which David Silva is held. The man who signified the start of the Mansour revolution is still the idol of the Etihad.Embed from Getty Images
Only Vincent Kompany and Yaya Toure remain from the team for which Silva originally signed. The talented yet diminutive Valencia ‘trequarista’ was undoubtedly highly talented and arrived at City having just added the World Cup to the first of his two European Championship titles. Despite this he was faced with the familiar questions regarding height, stature and physicality and whether he could cope with the pace of the English game. To solve this, he made the English game move at his pace.
The magic of David Silva cannot be measured by statistics. A record of a goal every five Premier League games is not bad for a midfielder. An assist every three games is certainly impressive. But there is so much more than this to admire. Silva controls matches like a metronome. He has established himself as a certain first choice at a club with the finances to buy literally anybody. Anyone watching Ilkay Gundogan, Kevin De Bruyne and Silva himself on Sunday afternoon must surely have known they were witnessing possession football of a class never seen before in the Premier League.
There are precious few players who find themselves universally respected throughout the footballing community. A quick Google search unearths a multitude of compliments from teammates and opponents alike. City legend Colin Bell, a man with a stand named in his honour, offered the highest compliment when stating ‘David Silva is the greatest player to have represented the Club’.
Silva received a wealth of public well-wishes during an extremely difficult period in his family life earlier this year, including respectful messages from many affiliated with City’s bitter rivals. Kind words from Gary Neville and Michael Carrick spoke of a respect far beyond allegiances.
It would surely be difficult even for the most ardent United fan to genuinely dislike the Gran Canaria native. Like fellow Manchester based Spaniard Juan Mata (respected for both his playing style and charity work), Silva has become a beacon of positivity in the much maligned world of the Premier League footballer.Embed from Getty Images
Silva has now turned 32. The trademark hair has gone but the class remains. His clinical assist on Sunday acted as yet another reminder that we have been lucky to watch this man grace stadiums and screens for the majority of the last decade. Aguero gets the attention grabbing goals. De Bruyne produces the highlight reel passes. Silva holds the entire operation together. His brilliance doesn’t need confirmation or explanation with Twitter clips or Youtube compilations. Like the man himself, it is subtler than that.
Sometimes you just need witness genius to understand that it is there.
Written by Dan Fox.