The announcement of an extension to Yaya Toure‘s contract with Manchester City instantly brought to my memory Monty Python‘s “What have the Romans ever done for us?” sketch:
What has Yaya Touré ever done for us?
More on that later.
For Man City fans, Yaya has been a divisive figure with some saying that he does not deserve to be dubbed a “City Legend.”
For one thing, there has been his unswerving loyalty to his Machiavellian agent provocateur Dimitry Seluk.
In May 2014, Yaya appeared to threaten to leave City due to what he perceived to be a lack of respect for the club’s failure to properly honour his 31st birthday. This was at first denied but then later affirmed by our big Ivorian.
Seluk went to the press:
“Yaya is so upset, he is thinking of leaving City. There are a number of things that have happened that have left Yaya feeling bitterly upset. City have treated him with disrespect and have really hurt him. What happened at his birthday meant the club don’t care about him. It was proof. They can say whatever they want, ‘Oh we like him, but we forgot.’ None of them shook his hand on his birthday. It’s really sick.
Yaya at first responded on Twitter:
“Thanks for all the birthday messages today. Card from City just arrived… Must have got lost in the post. Haha. Jokes aside. Please do not take words that do not come out of MY mouth seriously. Judge my commitment to @MCFC by my performances.”
The club had indeed wished Yaya Happy Birthday and claimed to have given him a cake. A video was soon circulated showing him being presented with one on a flight although he appeared to be disinterested and looking the other way as the gesture was offered.
Soon after however, Touré did a u-turn and took to Twitter once more to back up the earlier claims of his agent:
“Everything Dimitry said is true. He speaks for me. I will give an interview after the World Cup to explain.”
This particular kind of spat between Yaya and the club was not the first time something like this had happened as The Telegraph reported at the time:
“When Seluk issued similarly outlandish claims about the player being unhappy last season on the basis of a lack of Touré shirts in the club shop and absence of pictures of him around the Etihad – with the exception of a 25-foot poster of Touré on the side of stadium – the club ultimately negotiated his new contract.”
The agent continued by rejecting the notion that the player was angling for more money:
“No. Money is not important. He has enough money. The most important thing is a human relationship and maybe this is his opportunity for Yaya to find that. If City don’t respect him, then easy – Yaya will leave. No problem. He got a cake, but when it was Roberto Carlos’s birthday, the president of Anzhi gave him a Bugatti. I don’t expect City to present Yaya with a Bugatti, we only asked that they shook his hand and said ‘we congratulate you’. It is the minimum they must do when it is his birthday and the squad is all together. Of course, Yaya is upset about this. It is his birthday and nobody said anything or shook his hand, so he does not feel comfortable.”
Eventually the issue died down however some Citizens were confused and upset by the behaviour of both player and agent. Most however, were happy to just let sleeping dogs lie.
That was until, Seluk was back to his old tricks in September last year when Yaya was omitted from the Champions League squad. This time Guardiola was the target and the Catalan responded by removing Toure from the squad until Seluk apologised.
The agent responded:
“If Pep Guardiola wants a war, then he can have one. I will apologise to Guardiola if he will apologise to Pellegrini for what he did to him. He took his job when he was still fighting for titles. If you are a gentleman this just does not happen. Colleagues should have respect for each other, especially in England where it is important to act like a gentleman. He [Pellegrini] signed a new contract last year then he gets pushed out for Guardiola to come in. Pellegrini was a gentleman.
Guardiola also needs to apologise to Joe Hart. It’s not right to come to England and then get rid of a few English players. Guardiola wants a new future for Yaya, for Hart, and they won’t be the last. We will see what happens. His contract expires at the end of the season and in January he will be free to go.
I spoke out because I felt that Pep was being vindictive to Yaya. Unfortunately for Pep, we live in a world where you have the right to free speech. He has reacted to what I have said about him by punishing Yaya again. But I’m not surprised.
Pep doesn’t want players with personality. He only wants players who are scared of him and will do what he says. The first thing he did when he arrived at City was to pick a fight with Yaya and Joe Hart, two of the club’s biggest players. They have both been big personalities in the dressing room at City and Guardiola doesn’t like that.
He was the same at Barcelona. He forced Samuel Eto’o to leave the club. Zlatan Ibrahimovic, a player who cost £57 million, was sold for just £18 million. It has to always be about Pep Guardiola, no-one else. Will I apologise? Well, I have learned that you must never say never. But will Pep apologise to Yaya? Will he apologise to Joe Hart or Manuel Pellegrini?”
The standoff lasted until November 16 of the season when Guardiola finally reinstated Touré in a match against Crystal Palace after the player had apologised for his agent’s comments.
Touré scored both goals in a 2-1 win.
Fair to say then, that Yaya has put more than a few noses out of joint both amongst the City hierarchy and the club’s fan base.
This may lead some to ask the question: ‘Just what exactly has Yaya Touré ever done for us?’
Perhaps we can answer that question by redrafting the classic Monty Python interaction in the sketch shown at the top of this post:
REG: He’s disrespected us the bastard. He’s humiliated the manager. Not just the manager but also the chairman.
LORETTA: And the owner!
LORETTA: And the whole City group. And the whole country of Abu Dhabi.
REG: Yeah. All right, Stan. Don’t labour the point. And what has he ever given us in return?!
XERXES: Those free kicks?
XERXES: Those perfect free kicks.
REG: Oh. Yeah, yeah. He did give us those. Uh, that’s true. Yeah.
COMMANDO #3: And the FA Cup.
LORETTA: Oh, yeah, the FA Cup, Reg. Remember we’d never have won that if not for Yaya.
REG: Yeah. All right. I’ll grant you the free kicks and the FA Cup are two things that Yaya has given us.
MATTHIAS: And those wonderful surging runs into the box!
REG: Well, yeah. Obviously the surging runs into the box. I mean, the surging runs go without saying, don’t they? But apart from the free kicks,the FA Cup and the surging runs–
COMMANDO: The 24 goals in 2013-14 season?
XERXES: 2 League titles?
COMMANDO #2: 2 league cups?
REG: Yeah, yeah. All right. Fair enough.
COMMANDO #1: And those perfect penalty kicks?
COMMANDOS: Oh, yes. Yeah…
FRANCIS: Yeah. Yeah, that’s something we’d really miss, Reg, if Yaya left.
COMMANDO: Wonderful range of passing!
LORETTA: And we’re not often bullied off the ball now, Reg.
FRANCIS: Yeah,he certainly knows how to shield the ball. Let’s face it. He’s the only one who could in a team like ours.
COMMANDOS: Heh, heh!
REG: All right, but apart from the free kicks, the FA Cup, the surging runs into the box, the 24 goals, the 2 league cups, the 2 league titles, the penalty kicks, the wonderful range of passing, and no longer being bullied off the ball, What has Yaya ever done for us?
XERXES: Brought success?
REG: Oh. Success? Shut up!
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