invito al cielo
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: In Mulder's Basement room
Great piece about David Silva I thought some of you might dig
Pep Guardiola misjudged David Silva back in 2010, but not as badly as Real Madrid.
Guardiola admitted on Friday that he didn’t think Silva would do well in English football.
“He’s a technical player, he’s not playing box-to-box,” Guardiola said. “My image of England from the outside, I thought, ‘Maybe he’s going to suffer’. But I was happily, happily wrong.”
At least Guardiola eventually got to benefit from Silva’s talents, unlike Madrid, who blew their chance in frankly strange circumstances.
Everything was in place for Silva to move to the Santiago Bernabeu for about £30 million from Valencia. Florentino Perez set the ball rolling after a game between the two sides in the Spanish capital at the end of 2009-10, when he went down into the dressing room area, flanked by two of his nephews, to make a beeline for the playmaker. When Silva emerged, Perez approached and asked for a photo and an autograph for his relatives. Slightly confused and perhaps eager to get onto the team bus as soon as possible (some things never change), Silva gesticulated to his suitcase. Perez called for a Madrid delegate to take care of it: “Take the suitcase to the locker room, because next year David will be with us.”
Silva smiled sheepishly, took the picture and made his way home, and in the weeks that followed he became more and more open to the transfer. But once everything was in place, Madrid suddenly backed away and called it all off. City made their move and the rest is history – on Sunday at Bournemouth he played his 400th game for the club, in his 10th and final year.
“He’s been a fantastic servant to Manchester City,” Paul Power, who played 445 games for City between 1975 and 1986 and was the last player to reach the 400 milestone, tells The Athletic. “I think it’s more difficult these days to be loyal to one club. In my day, the directors of the club dominated the situation, so if a player wanted to get away he probably wouldn’t be able to. Nowadays if a player wants to get away, it’s usually quite easy for his agent to find a way. In those circumstances, he’s been fantastically loyal to City: he’s never caused a problem, like the situation with (Leroy) Sane at the moment.”
Had Madrid handled themselves better a decade ago, perhaps they would have stood a chance of taking him from City. In the weeks that followed Silva’s move to City, the reasons for Madrid’s change of heart were reported in the Spanish press. At this point, they make for surprising reading. It was said that Madrid carried out a complete study of his character and decided not to sign him because of concerns about his private life. He did not carry himself with the “required dignity” for Real Madrid. There were even rumours they felt he drank too much alcohol and was too much of a partier.
Were they watching the same David Silva?
“I don’t know where those rumours came from,” Silva said several years later, with his first Premier League title in the bag for City. “I have a clean conscience and I have always been a professional. That situation didn’t make me angry but it did seem very strange to me. There was interest and perhaps they wanted to end it with that. I’m very happy with the decision that I made.”
There is no doubt that everybody at Manchester City feels the same way. It did take him some time to adapt to life in England – he had a quiet first few months and did look as small and shy as perhaps Guardiola expected, but he became more comfortable as he and his family began to learn English, while a close friend, David Quintana, joined him in Manchester and eventually earned a position at the club looking after first-team players off the field.
Since then Silva has not looked back, although he pretty much is now as he was back then: he lives a quiet life with his family, especially so after the premature birth of his son Mateo, a period of his career which again proved his non-footballing qualities. When he’s with friends – he is very close with one City physio – he’ll often be playing La Pocha, a Spanish card game (you can download the app and try it out).
You’d have to go very far to find anybody connected to City with a bad word to say about Silva. Power’s observation about his loyalty to the club is typical of the praise that comes his way – after the consistently impressive performances, which have had fans wondering for years how they will replace him, everybody goes back to his character.
“I don’t just think he’s a clever player – everybody knows he’s a clever player and that he creates situations for other players – but he’s also a brave player,” Power adds, harking back to bygone eras. “I think there are two types of bravery, there’s the Mike Doyle centre half type brave, who will put his body on the line to prevent a goal, but there’s also bravery where you take the ball under pressure, you know you’re going to get clattered but you still put that pressure on yourself, and I think David is that type of brave. He chases the ball down, he does the defensive side of the game when the opposition have got the ball. He’s the complete attacking midfield player, really.”
These are the reasons he is now captain. After Vincent Kompany’s departure the City players took a vote at the start of the season, and decided to honour Silva, who plans to leave next season after 10 years, by giving him the armband.
Kevin De Bruyne was one of those who voted for him: “He came out on top and I think that’s normal,” the Belgian told The Athletic. “He’s been here for nine years and everybody has great respect for him, and everybody showed that.”
It may sound obvious but Silva is said to be genuinely delighted to have been chosen as captain, as he recognises that show of recognition by his team-mates. As you might expect, he is not a Kompany-type captain.
“Vinny is very vocal,” De Bruyne said. “David is very low key but when he speaks everybody listens. I think everybody has his own type of leadership and I think he is somebody who tries to control it in the game and maybe do it more in a silent way.”
There may be an element of surprise in the “listen to David” mantra: sources suggest that he doesn’t talk often, so when he does, it’s unusual, but always useful.
He is fiercely protective of the club’s young players, too, certainly with Brahim Diaz (a bond strengthened by the Spanish connection) before the 20-year-old joined Real Madrid. If any young player needs advice, Silva is on hand and, if he feels one of them has been unfairly treated, he has not been slow to fight their corner, even at the expense of arguing with senior players.
He has been a very positive influence on Phil Foden, the man who may one day step into his shoes. The two have worked closely on the training ground in recent years, and while Foden, 19, does not need any pointers on his technique, Silva often takes time out to explain why he does certain things in matches or in training: if it creates space for team-mates, or confuses opponents. Sources close to Foden say this has been invaluable, as these are the lessons you only learn with experience.
And what experience Silva has, both good and bad. Having won titles under Roberto Mancini and Manuel Pellegrini, Silva was struggling with injuries in the months that led up to Guardiola’s arrival. He usually needed injections to get him through matches, despite telling staff that he needed to manage his game time to fully overcome a persistent ankle problem.
Guardiola’s first season was a struggle for many, and some of those who did not understand his methods found themselves moved on. Guardiola felt that Silva, however, fully grasped what he wanted to achieve after their very first meeting together. The Catalan had done his own research ahead of his arrival in England, speaking to Silva’s previous coaches in Spain – they did not highlight anything that came up in Real Madrid’s character report.
Silva has shown his qualities throughout his time with Guardiola, so much so that he played every three days towards the end of last season, despite again having to tell staff that he needed to manage his game time, with age and weary legs now the primary concern.
His form suffered and this season he will not play every week – last weekend he was on the bench against Tottenham – but his worth to this team is unquestioned and he showed that again on Sunday. Guardiola spent the week in a foul mood, with even those close to him advised to give him a wide berth, so it was no surprise he turned to Silva again as he looked for a win on the south coast.
“It’s easy to play with him,” De Bruyne added. “Obviously we’ve played a lot of times together and I have a good connection with him. He makes football look easy: when you look at him, he is always in control of the game and I think that is his biggest quality.”
Many have called for Bernardo Silva to simply slot in and take his place, but that is to show a lack of understanding of their respective strengths, and David Silva’s role in the team. He is the hub for the entire left-hand side, the go-between for the left back, the defensive midfielder, the left winger and the central striker. He gets the ball in tight spaces and gives it to somebody else, the quick exchange often proving enough for a team-mate to dart in behind the opposition defence.
Down with this sort of thing.