With Advent now under way and the countdown to Christmas now on, Typical City is looking at an incident, player or match specific to the club that corresponds with each date. Today, Dan Burke ponders the brilliance of current number 21, David Silva…
In the months and years that followed Sheikh Mansour’s 2008 takeover of Manchester City, a great many millions were spent on bringing a number of high calibre players to the club.
City broke the British transfer record when they signed Robinho, and depending who you believe, broke it again when they signed Carlos Tevez the following year. However, it wasn’t until they spent a relatively moderate £24 million on Spain international David Silva in 2010 that they genuinely made a signing that was the envy of world football.
Silva’s signature had long been coveted by a number of elite clubs, such as Barcelona, Real Madrid and Liverpool, but it was City who made their intentions clearer than anyone else and, more than anything, it was the strength of their desire that sealed the deal to bring him to Manchester from Valencia.
Speaking at the time, City manager Roberto Mancini expressed his delight at the capture of the club’s new acquisition.
“I think that David Silva is one of the best midfielders in Europe, and I hope he will be a very important player for Manchester City,” said the Italian.
“I am so pleased he is coming to us, I think he can make a big, big impact for Manchester City. In signing David, we are showing the world that we are bringing the best players here and that we hope to compete to win the Premier League.
“When players see what is happening at City and the ambition they are attracted to what we are building and want to be part of it.”
David Josué Jiménez Silva hails from the fishing village Arguineguín, Gran Canaria. A product of Valencia’s youth system, Silva had loan spells at Eibar in the Spanish Segunda División and Celta Vigo before establishing himself as part of Valencia’s senior squad in 2006 at the age of 20.
Silva made 119 appearances for Los Che, scoring 21 goals including a stunning long range strike in a Champions League fixture at Stamford Bridge, and his performances as a trequartista or left sided midfielder marked him out as one of the most exciting young talents in Europe and earned him a call-up to the Spanish national side.
After being part of the Spain squad that won the 2008 European Championships, Silva again represented his country at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa (which Spain would also go on to win) and completed his move to City during the tournament.
The Spaniard seemed as pleased and excited as anyone about the transfer.
“I want to say that I always hoped to come to Manchester City and I am excited about my future there,” he said.
“They are a club with a great future with fantastic players. I want to be an important player in Manchester City’s history.”
Silva made his debut for the Blues in a goalless draw away at Tottenham Hotspur on the opening day of the 2010/11 season but it would take him a little while to adjust to the pace and demands of the Premier League.
In October of that season, City fans got their first real glimpse of the kind of sorcery the man they call ‘Merlin’ is capable of. The Blues were leading 2-1 in the closing stages of a game away at Blackpool when Silva picked up the ball on the right of the penalty area, glided into the box and left two tangerine-shirted defenders trailing in his wake with an immaculate double-feint before curling the ball effortlessly into the far corner with his left foot.
The diminuitive Spaniard notched up four goals and seven assists in his first season in English football, helping the club to its first trophy in 35 years, but it was during the following season that he really established himself as an integral part of City’s squad and one of the Premier League’s finest players.
Silva was superb in the 2011/12 season, racking up seven goals and 17 assists in all, and his creative brilliance was perhaps best epitomised by his performance in the 6-1 demolition of Manchester United at Old Trafford, where he produced an incredible volleyed through ball to set-up Edin Džeko for City’s sixth goal of the afternoon. City went on to win their first league title for 44 years that season, and Roberto Mancini upgraded his praise of City’s number 21 from “one of the best midfielders in Europe” to “one of the best players in the world”.
At the beginning of the following campaign, to the delight of everyone Silva signed a new five-year contract which would keep him at the Etihad Stadium until 2017. Despite his contribution of four goals and eight assists, 2012/13 proved to be a disappointing season for City which ultimately cost Roberto Mancini his job.
It could be argued that Mancini’s replacement Manuel Pellegrini understands Silva better than any other manager he’s worked under. After City ended Pellegrini’s first season in charge of the club with a Premier League and League Cup double, Silva spoke of his contentment under the Chilean’s guidance.
“Having Manuel here has helped me personally,” he said. “It’s been really good for me. He’s suited me down to the ground. My style of play is more suited to an attacking style. He’s helped me develop as a player. You always want to improve as an individual.”
City scored a record number of goals in 2013/14 with Silva scoring eight of them and assisting 10 others.
At the age of 28, Silva signed another extension to his City contract at the beginning of the 2014/15 season, tying him down to the club until 2019.
“Over the last four years, we have achieved so much together, establishing City as a dominating force in England and now, when I look around this dressing room, I can see no reason why we won’t become one of the top teams in the world,” he said.
“It was a straightforward decision to extend my stay here and spend my peak years at Manchester City, a club with unbelievable fans who have always supported me.”
2014/15 was again a disappointing year for City but Silva had arguably his best season in a Blue shirt, contributing eight assists and a career-best 12 goals.
He is a truly exquisite player who is unplayable on his day and often capable of winning games on his own. Though his brilliance never goes unnoticed when he’s on the pitch, it is perhaps more noticeable when he isn’t around. After making an incredible to start to the 2015/16 season, Silva faced a long injury lay-off and to say his team missed his guile and creativity would be an understatement of epic proportions.
The little Spaniard turns 30 in January 2016 and there isn’t a single City supporter in the land who isn’t eternally grateful that he spent his peak years in a blue shirt. He won’t be around forever and we can only hope that we get to enjoy a few more wonderful years of David Silva.
The question of who is City’s greatest player of all time is one which has been debated for decades, and for a long time it seemed Colin Bell would forever be the undisputed King of the Kippax. In recent years however, even those who had the distinct pleasure of watching Nijinsky in his prime have been forced to admit that perhaps in David Silva, he has an heir to the throne.
In November this year, Bell himself was quoted as saying: “David Silva would walk into any City team. He’s in my greatest all-time XI and is just fantastic to watch. When he’s on the ball, he makes the whole team tick and we don’t look the same side without him.”
There’s no higher praise than that.
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Written by Dan Burke