The subtle genius of David Silva

As Craig Pawson blew his whistle to bring Manchester City’s thumping of Norwich to an end, it not only brought the curtain down on this campaign but also David Silva’s Premier League career.

What a career it was. City fans will remember him for a long time as the beating heart of a destructive attacking team which brought home a first league title since 1968. The vision to see and most importantly play an eye-of-the-needle pass, set him apart from most of his peers in the Premier League and indeed, the world. The graceful simplicity of the way in which Silva goes about his work is staggering, never seeming to go at much more than about 3rd gear. He left no pass overhit and no defence unpicked through his decade of understated dominance. 

Silva tended to go under the radar as far as awards and acclaim were concerned, why is this? Well, simply put Silva calmly dismantled the best defences in Europe and the world without so much as a word in anger. Never a chest beater with fancy hairstyles nor an overgrown parody of toxic masculinity bellowing down a camera lens after a simple tap in, Silva simply did not shout about his own brilliance, therefore making it go unnoticed by many others.

The raw numbers are also pretty staggering, across his ten years at Manchester City, Silva recorded 309 Premier League appearances. In these games he notched up over 60 goals which is impressive for a creative midfielder who one has to simply watch to figure out that shooting and goal-scoring is not high on his agenda. The stat most indicative of the quality of his tenure is that he also provided 93 goals for teammates across his Premier League career. 

As with most great midfielders the stats hardly tell the full picture of Silva’s quiet but assured leadership and his overall calming impact on a midfield. It is quite telling that Silva played 125 times for Spain, mainly alongside Xavi and Andres Iniesta. That Silva was considered by each Spain manager to be in the same class as these two speaks volumes of the respect he commands from all those he works with.

In Manchester City’s line-ups of the last decade Silva was given free roam over the attacking third to cause havoc between the lines, a task he relished and completed with aplomb. The ability to turn on the spot and not worry where the ball is (glued to the outside of his boot) gives the defender no chance. With one eye trained on Sergio Aguero, a defender will also have to track the marauding Yaya Touré, if Silva has spotted three passes before the defender can move to close one, what chance do they have?

With the Premier League season over, all eyes will be on the Champion’s League. Can City shake that monkey off their back and win a first European title? To be brutally honest, if they get past Real Madrid then Barcelona, Juventus and Bayern Munich still loom as possible future opponents. One last hurrah would be the perfect end for such a popular player, leader, and teammate, and who knows, for the man called “El Mago” stranger things have happened.

When we look back on the names of past midfielders to grace the Premier League, because of course football did not exist prior, we stumble across the same few names. People will argue the finer points of the Lampard-Gerrard-Scholes debate for eons to come but for creative genius only one midfielder really rivals Silva. Cesc Fàbregas led the way for a more subtle discipline of creativity and Silva has carried the baton for this generation. Remarkably a player with just one player of the month award for the Premier League, probably leaves it as the 2010’s greatest player.

Of this last generation, no-one showed the touch and consistency combined with end product that David Silva maintained for an entire decade. He helped to transform City into a European contender – whatever you think of the money, everyone spent drastically – and for this he will always be remembered by the blue half of Manchester. 

Silva will be missed by all football fans and the league will be a less classy and dynamic place without him.

By Michael VInce

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