Just four weeks ago, Yaya Toure was given a standing ovation as he played his last game in a City shirt. Manager Pep Guardiola took him off the field with four minutes remaining to allow the fans to give him the standing ovation he deserved. The club thanked him, the fans thanked him and the football world paid tribute to him. It took eight years to earn his status as a City legend.
He destroyed it in one day.
Today, an article was published in France Football in which the former City midfielder was quoted as saying manager Pep Guardiola was ‘cruel to him’. “I came to wonder if it was not because of my colour,” Toure said. “When we realise he often has problems with Africans wherever he goes, I ask myself questions.”
So are we to believe Pep Guardiola has issues with black footballers? Players like Leroy Sane, Raheem Sterling, Benjamin Mendy, Fernandinho, Vincent Kompany or Gabriel Jesus? Because they are often frozen out of the team in a way that they play virtually all the time…when fit anyway. So it must be a problem, like Toure said with African players, which explains why Guardiola is so determined to sign Algerian Riyad Mahrez.
It must not have anything to do with the fact that Toure is now 35 and may now be starting to struggle to keep up with the fast pace of the Premier League, to the point where the manager needs younger, faster players that will keep the pace.
It might not even be that Toure can be brilliant in one game and play with lethargy the next. It has been documented over the past eight years that Toure has looked uninterested in many games, playing lazy passes or failing to track back when City are on the defensive.
And it surely cannot be anything to do with his agent, Dimitri Seluk, who has previously tried to engineer a move away from City for his client, only for him to agree a new contract and obligatory pay rise. All this and we’ve not even mentioned the birthday cake fiasco.
No, let’s go with racism, because that is effectively what he is accusing Guardiola of, even if he won’t come out and say the word himself.
And now Seluk himself has waded in with some comments of his own, suggested Guardiola will never again win the Champions league because he ‘turned all Africa against himself, many African fans turned away from Manchester City. And I’m sure that many African shamans in the future will not allow Guardiola to win the Champions League. This will be for Guardiola an African curse. Life will show whether I am right or not.’ Okay then.
Now Toure and his agent are saying they want to but the ‘Pep myth,’ and Seluk has even suggested Toure may sign for another top six club and play for £1 per week just to prove a point. If he does that, who exactly is he hurting? Guardiola, who offered Toure a new one year contract last season when he could have shown him the door? And the manager paid tribute to Toure prior to the Brighton game when he said “Yaya came here at the start of the journey. Where we are now is because of what he has done. The Brighton game we will give him what he deserves, one of the most beautiful farewells a player can receive.”
Is he hurting Manchester City Football Club, who gave him such a good send off after the Brighton match, then in honour of the big man, named one of their training pitches after him
No, by doing what his agent is proposing he is hurting the fans who, despite the games where Toure couldn’t be bothered, still idolised him, still wanted to see him bursting through the midfield or scoring a trademark free kick. He was what the City fans had wanted for years, a midfield powerhouse, capable of taking on any defence. Blues fans would have welcomed him back warmly to Etihad next season, but after this sad episode, I’m not so sure.
“God sees everything. As a man who acted with Yaya, the legend of the club, which under different pretexts did not give the opportunity to go on the field,” said Dimitri Seluk today.
Two days ago, Toure was indeed a legend at the club. Today, he is just another footballer who once played for the blues.