Life, job and family all got in the way of a write up after City's badly needed 3-2 win over Aston Villa. I had an enormously good time reading this, this, this and this so if you haven't already, stop reading now and click on the links to see why and how City did it (and boy, did they need to do it).
We'll very likely finish above the rags, possibly finish above Arsenal and have no way in Hades of catching Chelsea. And after the last ball is kicked on (date), there will be any number of questions asked. Chief among them, in my humble opinion, will be this:
Who's definitely not wearing a City shirt next season? I've got exactly Five Thoughts on this subject.
Thought the First: Fare Thee Well, Yaya Toure
When I decided to make soccer my principal sport in 2011, I chose City as my team—Sergio Aguero's first game. And as weeks passed, I embraced as my favorite player #42. I'm convinced Yaya Toure is the most underrated player of the last twenty years. To my knowledge, he has never been considered one of the best players in the world because:
A) His prime, as well as other great players, was spent in the shadow of two all-time immortals (Messi and CR7).
B) He has not been a prolific goal scorer, like Lampard, Gerrard and others.
C) He's had a relatively nomadic existence—he'll be remembered as a Citizen but if he played his career at City, there's no doubt in my mind he'd be thought of in the same light as Paul Scholes.
D) His later years are what people are going to remember most.
It's that last point I want to elaborate on. As of now, at age 31 and with many, many miles on his legs, Yaya Toure's value is entirely on the offensive side of the pitch. More than once this season, he has been virtually invisible, if not counter-productive. Against Villa, we saw glimpse of the man who used to take games by the scruff of the shirt and win them by his self—players still look to put the ball at his feet because they trust him to make the good decisions but heaven help us if he doesn't have the energy on a particular day because when he's off his game, it's devastating to the team. Because players still look to him when he's having an off day. In any sport, there is nothing worse than relying on one of your best players when they have become unreliable. It literally hurts to type these words but while the above four points may be true, this is also true:
- Yaya is past his prime.
- His agent is an insane person.
- He's still in demand by other teams.
We want to excel in Champions League. We want to compete for every trophy. We can no longer do that with my all-time favorite player, Yaya Toure. Sell him now while he still has some value. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to scream into my pillow.
Thought the Second: Fare Thee Well, Edin Dzeko.
How long ago was it that Pellegrini solved the Dzeko problem by making him striker numero uno? Doesn't seem that long ago and yet here we are, nary a year later and Dzeko is, as he always seems to be, languishing at no better than number three on the depth chart behind Aguero and Bony. He's capable of scoring hugely important goals—we have seen that. He's capable of being the center of an offense—we have seen that when he dons the Bosnian shirt. But it's been a long time since we've seen one of those hugely important goals and he'll never be the center of attack for City. He might be overqualified as a third striker. My issue with Dzeko is he's limited in what he can do; he's not a good passer, not great as a link-up player. I mean, I like him. And I'll never, ever forget the injury time header that kept us alive (you know what I'm talking about). But like Yaya, we need to sell him now, get some value and get a young gun to replace him.
Thought the Third: Fare Thee Well, Fernando
Who would you rather have right now—Fernando or Javi Garcia? If you chose the latter, then ask yourself why we need Fernando when better options are available. If you chose the former, I have to ask what games you've been watching. You can almost see the staff at Porto smiling from here. I'm sure he's a great guy but, jeebus, I'm just not at all sure he can play.
Thought the Fourth: Fare Thee Well, James Milner
He hasn't signed, he wants to be a center mid and he's in demand. He's gone, people. And yes, I'll miss him, too.
Thought the Fifth: Fare Thee Well, Samir Nasri
I don't know what happened here. Injury? Drop off in form? How did Samir Nasri become persona non grata in this desultory season? Why is always behind Jesus Navas come rain or shine? Perhaps more crucially, who will bring in more money this offseason—Navas or Nasri? We know what we're getting fro Navas each and every time on the pitch: maniacal effort, speed, a ton of shots that one day may go in and crosses that one day may find the target. But Nasri, like Yaya above, is no longer a reliably great player. To a lesser extent, Nasri could (and has been) great for us. Not so much anymore. Time to sell while we can still get something for him.
Final Thought: Poll!
You know what to do.