This article is part of Football FanCast’s In Numbers series, which takes a statistical look at performances, season-long form and reported transfer targets…
Having played a key part in Manchester City’s domestic treble last season, Bernardo Silva rounded off an unbelievable campaign by being voted Player of the Tournament in the Nations League as Portugal clinched international glory. His achievements even led to suggestions he could be in the running for the Ballon d’Or.
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Fast forward a few months later however, and the 25-year-old has bizarrely found himself on the side-lines at the Etihad. This is a man who contributed 13 goals and 14 assists in 51 games across all competitions last year, and had Pep Guardiola publicly insisting he was virtually undroppable.
“What Bernardo has done this season is a consequence of the way he accepts his role. He works so hard and the rewards are there. Right now with the way he plays I cannot do anything else but put him on the pitch and let him play. He’s so important for us. What he’s done for us is the best.”
And yet, that sentiment does not appear to hold weight anymore. The graphic below paints a frankly eye-brow raising picture of how Silva has fallen out of the reckoning at the Etihad.
Having found himself on the bench for the 5-0 thrashing of West Ham in the opening league game of the season, the Portugal international has completed the full 90 minutes just once in the top-flight. More often than not, the diminutive midfielder has had to make do with being taken off before the end of a match, or even just cameo appearances as a substitute.
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If these were the numbers in late winter when fixtures really begin to pile up, and there is a need for rotation, then that would make it slightly more understandable. But the games aren’t really coming thick and fast, and Guardiola’s baffling decision to either leave him out of the starting line-up, or take him off before the end, just doesn’t make too much sense at all.
In fact, neither does the constant changing of positions. Silva has now played in all the attacking roles behind the main striker, and the one full game he did complete against Watford, he scored a hat-trick. So naturally, the City boss decided to drop him to the bench for the following Premier League game against Everton. Sounds logical.
The Citizens already find themselves eight points behind table-toppers Liverpool, and whilst injury problems at the back haven’t helped the cause, Guardiola’s shocking treatment of one of his talismans is a very worrying sub-plot indeed.