Manchester City are having a mixed season. That sounds like a negative statement for a team that topped the perceived ‘Group of Death’ in the Champions League, have made the League Cup semi-finals, and are comfortably in the top four, very much in the title race.
However, games to Tottenham Hotspur away, Liverpool at home and the recent Stoke City clash show there are real frailties in the team. Injuries can only be part of the explanation, when at times the players appear to lack interest and motivation.
This brings us to a common conundrum facing expensively assembled squads: The problem with mercenaries. Yaya Toure is more bothered with birthday cakes than covering every blade of grass and other players drift through matches they expect to win with ease.
Luckily City have five stars that stand out from the pack. A spine that cares about the club as if they were fans themselves. Every match day is equally important to this core and their future goals all revolve around life at the Etihad.
Here are the five Manchester City players that care for the club…
It can’t be understated how important David Silva is to City’s on-field performance. Whenever he is absent it’s like watching an orchestra without its conductor. For years, the player referred to as Merlin, has been playing at a level that would see him walk into the Barcelona or Real Madrid side.
He hasn’t even considered these overtures. His ambition is to win the Champions League at Manchester City, as he once again reiterated in the Manchester Evening News when he said; ‘I feel very good at City, the fans treat me very well there. We have won two leagues, cups – we just need to take another step in the Champions League.’
He also added he’d like to end his career at Las Palmas.
The goalkeeper was signed from Shrewsbury Town long before the club was transformed with riches. But even then he saw the opportunity to play at City as a gift. He acknowledges the club stood by him and helped develop his potential.
His admiration for players like Frank Lampard, that served one Premier League team for a long period of time, has been the inspiration that led him to tell the Manchester Evening News: ‘I am really proud to have played 300 games for this club and I want to stay for as long as they want me.’
It shows on the field, where his passionate displays make him an unnamed captain for manager Manuel Pellegrini.
The much loved Argentine fullback is another player that arrived before Sheikh Mansour – albeit by a day – and has survived an influx of new faces to establish himself as a key member of City’s squad. He has also won the hearts of the Citizens in the stands.
Their love for him is reciprocated as Zabaleta has fully embraced Manchester life and English culture. As he was quoted by The Mirror explaining, ‘After six years I can say I am a Mancunian.’
Adding how he’d like to show Lionel Messi a good time in an attempt to lure him to the Blues: ‘I would like to show him around Manchester. Maybe I could take him out to Didsbury and we could have some fish and chips. I think he would like that!’
Vincent is the captain and for good reason. He arrived in 2008, before the transformation, and quickly understood the self-deprecating humour of City fans. Since then he’s been on the same journey as they have.
Starting out under Mark Hughes, he even played out of position as a holding midfielder for the good of the team. Since then he has established himself as one the world’s leading centre-backs and the cornerstone of the City side.
Marrying a lifelong City fan is symbolic of the commitment he has given the club.
It’s hard to place anyone higher than Zabaleta or Kompany when it comes to devotion for the City shirt. Sergio Aguero takes that honour here because there is no doubt he can use the much overused title of ‘World Class Player’ without argument.
Aguero could quite easily have left Manchester at any point to join Real Madrid but he has stood steadfast in his duty. Being the pinnacle in the greatest ending to a Premier League season, when he scored the vital goal against QPR, created an unbreakable bond with the City fans.
He has previously been quoted as saying he’ll stay until City win the Champions League. Perhaps he’s realised that could mean he plays until he’s 87 years old, so recently said, as reported by Kick Off, he’d honour his current contract, ‘I have always said that I want to return to Independiente and I will do just that. I will return to Independiente when my contract with City expires. I do not want to make my comeback when I am too old.’
There’s not a City fan alive that will begrudge him a farewell when he’s aged 31, after giving the club his best years.