There are undeniable similarities between David Silva and Johnny Marr.
Both are petite. Both are handsome devils with 60s-style mop-tops. Both are effortlessly cool, both love Manchester City and both are composers of beautiful types of music.
Both are legends.
Another thing they have in common is that their team was/is never the same in their absence. Johnny Marr‘s departure from The Smiths in 1987 brought about the end of Manchester’s finest pop/rock band. David Silva‘s recent absences from City, in fact pretty much all his absences from the Blues’ starting 11 since he joined the club in 2010 have resulted in frustration and impotence. Without our lockpicker-in chief, our build-up play lacks an end product.
Silva and Marr are both possessed of a rare genius held in gushing esteem by almost all their peers.
Of Silva, Patrick Vieira has said:
“Since he joined the football club, I don’t think we have really said enough how good he is. He is one of the best players in the world, no doubt about it. For me he is up there. When you talk about Messi and Ronaldo, yes they are fantastic, but David can be put in the same category of players who could play in any team around the world. His football brain, his ability to control the ball and play football, is unbelievable. I am a huge fan. When the team is struggling, that is when the leaders come out, and David showed he is a leader. He may be very quiet but when he is on the field, he takes the responsibility, and that is the kind of leader you need in your team.”
You can hear Noel Gallagher on the unique skills of Johnny Marr here.
Both are irreplaceable.
Without them, the only option is to disband, regroup or try your luck again in a new format as Morrissey successfully did for some years as a solo artist without Marr.
Because David Silva‘s game is not based on pace or sheer athleticism, there is great hope among City fans that he might have a good 3 years left in his locker at the top level of the game.
Whatever the case, supporters will also be hopeful that when the day comes that he is unable to offer 90 minutes on a regular basis, we will be able to retain his services for as long as possible as an off-the-bench game-changer. It’s hard to imagine City without him.
But are we grooming an understudy?
Kevin De Bruyne offers a somewhat similar skill-set with his sumptuous defence-splitting passes, crosses and a superior goal threat to The Magician, but that close control in tight spaces is not there.
Steve Mingle in his book From Balti Pies to the Biggest Prize: The Transformation of Manchester City (July 2013: The History Press), sums up what we miss when Silva is unavailable to us:
One of the pundits, Jamie Redknapp I think, describes him as playing as though he’s got wing mirrors, and it’s a perfect description. Like Ali Bernarbia, he carries a picture in his head of where everyone is and where they’re moving to…Younger City fans don’t know how lucky they are.
Close control in crowded penalty areas is a precious skill in the modern game and few possess it. The two top teams in the division this year have it to some degree. Eden Hazard (Chelsea) and Christian Eriksen (Tottenham) have regularly bailed their teams out of tight situations this season with this ability – a priceless commodity which is also on view at the Santiago Bernabéu in the form of Luka Modrić.
Manchester City would do well to scout this kind of talent early and avoid any kind of penny pinching when they identify it in a youngster.
El Mago‘s namesake Bernardo Silva at Monaco is a player who is not yet spoken about in terms of ridiculous transfer fees due to the hype surrounding Kylian Mbappé, yet in the games against us in the Champions League, the Portuguese youngster provoked many a dropped jaw when he performed those lovely little pirouette movements and passes that David Silva has made his trademark.
Bernardo cannot fully replace David Silva in the same way that Noel Gallagher is not in the same league as Johnny Marr.
However he is similar, exceptionally talented and hardworking and may yet achieve something like his forerunner’s legendary status in a blue shirt.
City need to plan for a succession.
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