Even though everyone agrees that David Silva is a majestic and absolutely terrific footballer, it feels like he is still quite underrated despite being one of the best players the Premier League has ever seen. Since touching down in Manchester in the summer of 2010, David Silva has been an ever-present player in the Manchester City side, quickly becoming an integral part of the side in his first season.
Despite turning 32 few weeks ago, Silva’s importance to Manchester City has not diminished one bit. He is still as key to their play as he was years ago, even though he is playing in deeper zones now. Manchester City have had a truly remarkable season so far and there have been excellent performances from the likes of Kevin De Bruyne, Raheem Sterling, Otamendi and many other players. In fact, De Bruyne has been named favourite to be PFA Player of the Year by many. In truth, he has been incredible all season, delivering great performance after great performance, especially in the big games. This is probably why David Silva’s performances have been understated.
A lot of the time, David Silva does not get directly involved with goals so he does not rack up monster stats like most playmakers. But every time you watch City play, you notice that a lot of the play leading up to chances created leading to goals go through Silva. He is the Chief Orchestrator of “pre-” plays. If Manchester City were an Orchestra, David Silva would be the Conductor. He would be unlike most conductors – rather than being in front directing from the podium where he is the centre of attention, he would be somewhere at the centre pulling strings like a puppeteer & controlling the entire performance around him. You can mention a lot of names in that side and they would deserve their mentions for the amazing performances they have put in this season but the man that truly makes City tick is David Silva. It is in the way he glides around the pitch and makes himself available every time a player needs someone to pass to. He’s the metronome in the team, the one that controls the pace of games and decides the flow. Silva is like a Chess player; he thinks four, five steps ahead as the ball comes towards his left foot. It shows in his movement after his first touch of the ball and how he plays it. It’s an absolute joy to behold.
Against Liverpool, Manchester City got battered in the second half leading to mistake after mistake and ultimately three goals that proved costly. As Liverpool kept hasling them that day and the Adrenaline was high, Man City needed someone in that centre who could take control of the game and slow down the pace in the process. That someone was David Silva. The hole left because of his absence was glaring. There is no player that does that in Manchester City like David. Maybe things would not have gotten that bad if he had been on the pitch that day. Maybe he would have been able to take some pressure off the defenders who were visibly stunned by the relentless pressing of the Liverpool players. In those situations, you want the pressure off. The man who replaced him, Gundogan, could not quite do it. Fernandinho, who is often one of City’s calmer players, could not do it and he also made his fair share of mistakes. Silva was greatly missed.
Against Newcastle, it happened again. This time though, Manchester City had their David Silva back and the difference was clear. Obviously, there is a difference between the quality of Newcastle and that of Liverpool. However, the point is the ability and willingness to take the pressure off by controlling the tempo and knowing when to do it. There was a spell after their goal, with the game at 2-1, that Newcastle hounded City’s players as they passed the ball around. This was the point where Silva took charge. Instead of carrying the ball with the same Adrenaline that Newcastle were attacking with and making the game open, he killed the tempo when he got hold of the ball, thereby easing the pressure. At a particular point, City were able to win the ball and it fell to David Silva. He saw the opportunity to counter attack at the same speed but clearly understood the need to resort to patience in order not to play into the hands of the excited Newcastle players. It ultimately paid off as it took the pressure off a bit and slowed the Adrenaline of the Newcastle players. Few minutes later, City were able to capitalise through some exceptional play by Leroy Sané and take the score to 3-1. Game over.
That is the sort of thing that Silva brings which may not be talked about by the end of the season if Man City go on to win the title. You will hear about KDB’s assists, Leroy Sané’s trickery, Sterling’s goal tally & last minute winners as well as Aguero’s hattricks. Rightly so. Those players deserve a lot of praise for their contributions so far. However, it’s time for David Silva to start getting the praise he deserves. His unfortunate ongoing personal situation regarding his son Mateo may have hurt his chances of being named PFA Player of the Year as he missed a good number of games in the festive period. However, when he has been on the pitch in City’s colours, he has been consistently exceptional. Little wonder Man City have still only dropped 2 points in the 20 Premier League games Silva has played in – that game against Everton. In fact, that is the only game they have not won this season, in all competitions, with David Silva playing. It is certainly no coincidence.