David Silva is still an underrated figure for Manchester City
There were 35 minutes gone at the John Smith's Stadium last Sunday and David Silva was standing over the ball around 40 yards from the Huddersfield goal. Manchester City's usual passing patterns were not working against the massed ranks of blue and white shirts, so he took it upon himself to try something different.
With a drop of the shoulder and a burst of acceleration, he sped away from Aaron Mooy and jinked past Jonathan Hogg. Suddenly, space opened up in front of him. When Kevin De Bruyne cushioned the ball back into his path, Silva slid a precise, first-time pass through to Sergio Aguero. But for a heavy touch, City would surely have gone in front.
It was the standout moment of individual quality in a first-half in which every other City player seemed flummoxed by Huddersfield's stiff resistance. Silva set up Aguero for a second time with a deft flick a few minutes later, and just after the break, it was his perfect through ball which forced Scott Malone to concede the penalty for City's equaliser.
Nobody could begrudge Raheem Sterling the headlines that followed the win, but it was typical that Silva's contribution faded into the background. He has won every domestic trophy going since his arrival in English football and his place in Manchester City's history books is assured, but there remains a subtlety to his craft which lends itself to passing under the radar.
That trend has been more apparent than ever this season. City's dramatic 2-1 win over Southampton - by no coincidence their most disjointed display yet - was the first Premier League game of the campaign they have started without Silva. And yet while everyone from Aguero to Ederson has been lavished with individual praise, the shaven-headed Spaniard has been broadly overlooked.
It is reflected by the bookmakers. While his midfield partner De Bruyne is already regarded as the favourite to land the PFA Player of the Year award, Silva is rated as a 20/1 outsider. He is behind not only the Belgian but also Aguero and Gabriel Jesus. Harry Kane and Mohamed Salah are also deemed more likely contenders.
Perhaps it is simply that his brilliance is taken for granted. Silva is in his eighth season at Manchester City and he is not the type to court attention, preferring to keep a low profile off the pitch and rarely putting his hand up for interviews. There is also the fact that he is not a prolific scorer. With one goal so far this season, he is behind Fernandinho and level with left-back Fabian Delph.
The goals are left to others but nobody is more important when it comes to providing the service. In fact, there is even an argument that, at 31, this could be Silva's best season yet. He has provided more assists than any other Premier League player and single-handedly created more clear-cut chances than either Swansea, Burnley, Bournemouth or Huddersfield.
Opta's new passing sequences data is even more revealing. Sequences are defined as uninterrupted passages of play in which the ball is in possession of one team. This season, Silva is one of only three players in the Premier League to be involved in more than 90 sequences leading to shots from open play. Compared to De Bruyne and Christian Eriksen, however, he has reached that total in fewer minutes.
Silva's influence does not jump out in highlight reels but it is certainly not lost on Guardiola. "I admire him a lot," he said this week. "He perfectly suits Spanish football but here with the speed and the weather, the wind and the tough conditions, he has survived for a long time. I put a lot of attention on how players react in bad moments. David is always there and that's so important for the club."
It's important for his team-mates too. "It's insane how not a lot of people are really talking about him," said De Bruyne in the Sky Sports Match Zone earlier this month. "I think he is very underrated. He has played for Spain more than 100 times. He has won everything that he needs to win. For me, he gives the team the perfect balance."
De Bruyne has been rightly lauded for his performances since moving back into a deeper midfield role, but would he have made the transition so seamlessly without Silva by his side? Guardiola describes the Spaniard as a "master" of the position and De Bruyne has been a willing apprentice.
"I have learned a lot from him about retaining the ball," he added. "When I came here I was more of a high-risk player, taking opportunities and creating chances but also losing the ball more. I still like to take risks, I don't want to lose that, but there are a lot of things I have learnt from him."
And yet there are elements of De Bruyne's game which tend to overshadow his team-mate's. Silva is a slight figure who excels in providing a platform for others, while De Bruyne is a physical powerhouse who produces decisive moments himself. His spectacular goals against Chelsea, Arsenal and Leicester highlighted his ability to conjure something out of nothing.
Still, though, it tends to come back to Silva. He may not operate in the spotlight but he is always there, spotting the passes and finding the spaces. City have plenty of players capable of unlocking a stubborn defence, but even after all these years, nobody can see what's coming quite like David Silva.
phips wrote: David Silva is still an underrated figure for Manchester City etc
johnny crossan wrote:phips wrote: David Silva is still an underrated figure for Manchester City etc
is young Nicholas a relation of yours phips
johnny crossan wrote:
Justified logic wrote:"David Silva - City's Greatest Ever?"
Yes. He's got magnetic boots and eyes in the back of his head.
How can we ever replace hm?
johnny crossan wrote:
Mase wrote:Never been to a testimonial for any player and probably wouldn't. But when Dave has one when he leaves I'll be there 100%
He's still our best player.
nottsblue wrote:Mase wrote:Never been to a testimonial for any player and probably wouldn't. But when Dave has one when he leaves I'll be there 100%
He's still our best player.
Could play it at Wembley and it would sell out
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