Football

Silva Surfer: In Praise of Manchester City’s Merlin

Imagine a war getting concluded on a battlefield. There is that one soldier, who shot the main man down and emerged a hero, victorious, being cheered on by his compatriots and automatically finding himself in the limelight. Those are the kinds the people idolise and remember. But there is another soldier, who dictates the whole gameplay, playing with tactics in his head, foreseeing possible options, terminating the crucial targets and making way for his fellow members to proceed. He can open up space according to his own will. He will form mini maps and connect the dots, working on the back-end. He’ll prefer to operate silently, letting his teammates take the plaudits, but not go exactly unnoticed. His genius is appreciated for, maybe not always worshipped, but everyone feels honoured to be on the same side with this particular person.

He is none other than David Silva on the football pitch.

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are few, in fact, who would despise him. Even the ones on the wrong side of a David-Silva show will hold a certain amount of respect for him. And why wouldn’t they? His movement on the pitch (with and without the ball), space manipulation skills, and unreal vision complemented with silky passes can’t go unnoticed for long. He has rightfully been named Merlin, after the legendary sorcerer, since his Valencia days.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Recently scoring his 30th goal for Spain against France, he became Spain’s 4th top scorer of all-time, just 8 goals behind Fernando Torres.

Surprising, right? Since he is playmaker renowned for his goal-creation skills rather than goal-scoring. City fans can agree on how he hesitates while shooting the ball towards when he is in a position to score, and instead just passes it to a teammate nearby. And stats are proof of the fact that he has scored just 37 goals in the Premier League since joining the Citizens in 2010, which is just 7 more than what he has for Spain in half the number of appearances. This has happened because City have made a habit of effort in employing him as a playmaker rather than an attacker.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

He can be the integral spark needed to score a goal, as he makes goal-creation look comparatively easy. At Valencia, Silva had the most assists for 3 consecutive years and has created 62 Premier League goals for Manchester City since joining them, which is the most a player has contributed in this amount of time. The Spaniard has also created the most goal-scoring chances in this time period. One who has watched him play will assure you that his feint body turns, direction changes and delicious through-balls to teammates not visible on a tv screen never fails to amaze viewers. Youtube a David Silva video, and it will be accompanied with a title like ‘Little Genius’ and ‘Silent Assassin’, which goes to show how can control the back end so well. He rarely misplaces a pass too. The nervous and frustrating sighs in cases when he does misplace one, only goes to show the level of skill he has attained.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Understandably, he has been praised by every manager he has played with, along with Edin Dzeko, Carlos Tevez, Vincent Kompany and Alex Garcia. Not to forget pundits and opposition managers likes of Gary Neville, Jurgen Klopp, Sam Allardyce, Jamie Redknapp, Niall Quinn, etc., all publicly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the contrary, it’s Merlin himself who avoids the limelight. He comes, plays his part quite wonderfully, and goes back. He has no ego, something which most footballers in this generation possess. He never felt the need to ‘show’ the world that he is a footballer living a fancy lifestyle with all the money he earns. How many girls has he dated? How often does he party? Does he party at all? Who does he hang out with? Who does he detest? Even the media have failed to unravel these mysteries, which other footballers voluntarily contribute to the public. He isn’t the sexiest of footballers, and won’t be making his way onto the cover page of Vogue, and he will be thankful for that, as he silently lives his life with utmost swagger and satisfaction, I presume.

 

 

 

 

Despite all the off-field flaws, is pretty expressive on the pitch though, not in terms of showboating, but while celebrating. The diminutive midfielder is usually the first one to hug his teammates and congratulate them on a goal, and one doesn’t miss the happy jump-and-hug when the tall ones like Dzeko or Toure scored. He accompanies his celebrations with a bright smile, and on scoring a goal himself, kisses his wrist, dedicated to his cousin Cynthia who passed away due to cancer at a young age. So, it’s not like he is an introvert. He has mastered the act of keeping his life private, only sharing what is important and dedicating himself to football. There isn’t any inspirational rags-to-riches story here. He was a kid when he wanted to play football, and didn’t stop doing what he loved.

 

 

 

Another attribute which sets him apart is the willingness to fight for the team, and always being there for the team. He won’t be the catalyst to that fight which happens when players lose their poise, and he won’t be getting you a red card anytime soon because of sheer self-control. This self-control is an act of serving your team for the good. His inspirational story comes here. The lightweight Spaniard had injured his ankle on 12 separate occasions since his Valencia days, and doctors feared he may have to stop playing, or at least drop down levels before he turns 30. The situation had become bad in the second half of last season when his injury to the ankle was supposed to keep him out for months. But City’s poor form and injury problems stirred Silva, who took it upon himself to help Pellegrini’s fortunes. He took painkiller injections on a regular basis so that he could play. He wasn’t able to make much of an impact in the beginning, with many suggesting the player rest in order to prevent himself from damaging himself permanently. But he continued playing and gave his all for the team, and his form improved towards the end. Working hard in pre-season, he has become more flexible and closer to the Silva we saw a few seasons ago. 31 now, he still continues to thrive for the sky blues and the national side, and impressing us all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The point of this article wasn’t to just write praises about a player we like. David Silva became a social sensation, receiving several commercial offers and interviews since he scored his 30th goal for Spain. It’s like a new, young player suddenly emerging. The point is that the attention he is getting now, is something which he earned years ago. This article explored why he is a silent hero, and why him being silent about doesn’t mean that he isn’t a world-class player. One of the most intelligent players to play for City, it’s time we realise that he doesn’t need to be a Real Madrid or Barcelona player to have praises heaped on him. Yes, he may not be a flashy Cristiano Ronaldo with wonderful undercuts and toned thighs, but he deserves a certain amount of appreciative publicity so that people understand the true essence of being a footballer, that is being true to the sport and giving your all towards it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The football world is certainly lucky to have David Silva, and here’s to hoping he still has the steam to last for the next 5 years or more.

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