Reflecting on ten years of magic
"Silva glides around the pitch and is an integral part of our recent successes. He is a genuine pleasure to watch. When he’s on the ball, he makes the whole team tick. He has an incredible awareness and is the perfect player for the modern game."
SILVA IN BLOOM
2010 - 2011
By John Edwards
It is easy to forget, at the end of a glorious ten years for one of English football’s modern greats, that David Silva was already one of the finest midfielders in the world when he arrived at Manchester City in the summer of 2010.
The deal with Valencia was done on 30 June, ten days before Silva added a World Cup medal to the European Championship one he had won two years earlier as a glittering member of Spain’s golden generation.
Both Real Madrid and reigning Premier League Champions Chelsea had courted the diminutive playmaker at one stage or another, but it was City who prevailed, much to the delight of then manager Roberto Mancini.
“I am so pleased he is coming to us because I think he can make a big, big impact for Manchester City,” said the Italian, whose words proved wonderfully prophetic.
Silva might also look back on his own comments on signing day with a wry smile, having very much delivered on his aim to ‘bring success to City and win trophies for them.’
But for a player whose speed of thought sets him apart, life in Manchester got off to somewhat of a slow start.
Spain was a scene of jubilation after La Roja’s crowning glory in the summer of 2010 and, in his own words, Silva enjoyed the celebrations ‘a little too much’, so much so that he later admitted to still feeling the effects of the festivities when he arrived at the Club for his medical!
But there was no settling in period, with Mancini keen for his new signing to acclimatise to English football as quickly as possible.
He was thrust into the action immediately, making his debut against Tottenham Hotspur on the opening day of the 2010/11 Premier League season, despite carrying a slight knock.
One of seven new signings that summer, it was evident in the 0-0 draw at White Hart Lane, where Joe Hart was the star of the show, that Mancini’s new-look City would need time to gel.
‘The newcomer from Spain must have spent the first half-hour wondering if he was going to spend the whole of his City career seeing so little of the ball,” wrote Paul Wilson in The Guardian.
However, surrounded by fellow pillars of future success in the form of Vincent Kompany, Yaya Toure and Pablo Zabaleta, it did not take long for it to become evident that Silva would not only survive but thrive as the team’s creative heartbeat.
A month later, he scored his first goal, a crisp finish against Red Bull Salzburg in the Europa League, and by mid-October he had served the Premier League with notice of his beguiling talent.
Blackpool’s Bloomfield Road, where the main stand is named after the Wizard of the Dribble Sir Stanley Matthews, was the setting, but it was the mesmerising magic of Merlin that stole the show.
He had already picked out Carlos Tevez for the opening goal when he collected a short free-kick on the right of the penalty area in the final minute.
Two drops of the shoulder eliminated Stephen Crainey and David Vaughan’s frantic attempts to close him down with remarkable ease, before that wand of a left foot curled the ball into the far corner.
In the Seasiders’ goal Matt Gilks stood rooted, marvelling like the rest of us at the artistry of it all.
He had arrived.
Three consecutive City Player of the Month awards followed between October and December 2010, as the then 24-year-old began to exert his influence on Mancini’s title-winners to be.
Scoring once and providing five assists in that period, he allayed any initial doubts as to whether the man from Gran Canaria, who had passed and probed his way to world and European glory with Spain, could cut it in the hurly-burly of the Premier League.
And there were doubts, particularly back home, that the subtlety of his precocious talent, would struggle to shine in England.
“At the time of his arrival people were saying he was mad,” said Spanish journalist, Guillem Balague.
“It was a different Premier League. There were no show players allowed to roam as a No.10 or between the lines.”
A quick glance at the assist charts for that season confirm Balague’s point.
Nani, an out and out winger, led the way, with Didier Drogba and Andrei Arshavin second and third, whilst Cesc Fabregas was the only player in the top 20 who could lay any sort of claim to being of a similar ilk to Silva.
He flourished, nonetheless.
“It would be nice to do my little bit,” he had said at his first press conference and though he was predominantly used on the left-wing, it quickly became evident that Silva was the man making City tick.
It seemed he never lost the ball and always played the right pass, whilst the way in which he wriggled free of tackles painted a picture of man handling the intensity of English football with consummate ease.
But, having been wooed by the Club’s ambitions, it was achievements, not accolades that Silva was chasing.
"I will be happy if at the end we are in the Champions League - or if we win a trophy,” he announced, when outlining his aims for his first season.
It is a mark of his instant impact that he managed both.
He helped City to third - our highest league finish since 1977 – securing qualification for the Champions League for the first time on the final day of the league campaign.
By then, Silva’s place in City folklore had already been confirmed.
Eight days earlier, the Club’s 35-year wait for a major trophy ended with a famous 1-0 win over Stoke City in the 2011 FA Cup final at Wembley Stadium.
That cup run is inextricably linked with another legend of the modern era, the equally influential Yaya Toure, who scored the winning goals in both the semi-final and final.
But Silva, though blessed with qualities comparatively more subtle than the Ivorian with eye for the spectacular, was no less important.
He played in all but one of the games and was on target in the fifth-round win over Aston Villa, but was at his best in the hard fought sixth round victory over Championship outfit Reading.
Silva was the outstanding player that day, the architect of City’s best play against the stubborn Royals, and it was he who delivered the inviting corner which Micah Richards powered home to settle the tie.
In the final, an inviting half volley was uncharacteristically hit into the ground and over the bar to prevent him signing off a stellar season with match-winner status, but typically found a pocket of space to combine with Mario Balotelli in the build-up to Toure’s thunderous strike.
And so, his debut season ended as he intended, with a winner’s medal and Champions League football to look forward to.
Silva had proven himself and won the hearts of the fans, but he was only just getting started and City would continue to reap the rewards of the midfielder’s mesmerising talent.
2011 - 2013
By Caroline Oatway
A mesmerising debut campaign, illuminated with enchanting wizardry and awe-inspiring sorcery, sparked Silva’s emergence as one of the Premier League’s most exciting and prodigious playmakers.
Yet, as the footballing world were about to discover, the best was yet to come.
An assist at Wembley in the season’s Manchester Derby curtain-raiser may not have been enough to clinch the 2011 Community Shield but it would mark an early indication of the incredible moments yet to come for El Mago on England’s hallowed turf.
The opening night of City’s 2011/12 Premier League campaign may well have belonged to debutant Sergio Aguero, who bagged two goals and an assist in a 3-0 triumph over Swansea, but the Argentine’s delightful double bookended Silva’s first goal of the season – a blistering start for our dazzling duo and the beginning of a beautiful partnership.
Starting the season in blistering form, Spanish star Silva would write his name onto the scoresheet again in a five-goal thriller at Bolton before embarking on an exceptional run which registered 14 goals or assists in our opening 16 league games; 17 in 22 in all competitions.
With a string of dynamic displays, he wreaked havoc. Dazzling in a wonderful performance against Wigan, he won a penalty and set up both of Aguero’s goals – the second crafted with an absolutely sensational piece of skill, which simply epitomised the little magician.
Surrounded by three Latics men, there looked to be no escape but in one swift movement, El Mago floored Ronnie Stam and Ben Watson by rolling the ball back and clipping it over their despairing tackles to conjure the space he craved – as if by magic. Instinctively, he spotted Kun’s run and slid a gorgeous through-ball into the Argentine’s path and of course, the forward applied the perfect finish.
It was a simply sumptuous display and one which inspired manager Roberto Mancini to hail Silva as one of the best in the world.
"Silva is a top, top player," the Italian purred, two days after the Wigan triumph. "I don't know why he didn't go to Barça or Real Madrid because he's Spanish but we are lucky because he's here.
"If he had gone to Barça two years ago, everyone would say he's one of the best players in the world – and he is one of the best players in the world."
"He's different from [Lionel] Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo because they are strikers and score a lot of goals but I think he's the same as Xavi and [Andrés] Iniesta."
Cherished by fans, players and journalists alike, that passage of play is still regarded as one of the greatest moments in Silva’s City career – but once again, El Mago would go on to achieve the seemingly impossible, producing an assist which defied all expectations: an assist which stands as one of the most iconic moments in Premier League, Manchester Derby and Manchester City history.
Awakening on the morning of 23rd October 2011, even the most optimistic City fan would not have anticipated the events which would unfold at Old Trafford that day...
The 161st Manchester Derby would produce one of the more enjoyable and celebrated results in the Club’s history, as table-topping City tore apart our Red neighbours to register a remarkable 6-1 win, inflicting United's worst home defeat since February 1955. Pulling the strings in midfield: the influential David Silva.
At the heart of City’s very best attacking moves, the Spaniard was involved in five of City’s six goals. He played parts in the build-up to Mario Balotelli’s brace, swung in the corner for Edin Dzeko’s effort and bagged our fifth of the afternoon by slotting through the legs of compatriot David De Gea – and then, he saved his very best for last.
In the dying embers of the game, with City cruising to an historic 5-1 win, there was no pressure to mount another attack… but Silva could not resist the opportunity. Collecting a loose ball from Chris Smalling’s poor header, level with the centre circle inside the City half, Silva sensed an opportunity.
With graceful execution, he controlled the ball beautifully before volleying a sensational pass forward for Dzeko to run onto. As the CityTV commentary roared, it was: "a pass to rival any you'll see in the Premier League.” The Bosnian Diamond finished well to add the cherry to the top of the proverbial cake, but it was Chef Silva who had blended and baked the ingredients to perfection that day to concoct the sweetest of successes.
As City embarked on the hunt for a maiden Premier League crown, Silva continued to shine. A match-winning goal against Arsenal in December returned Mancini’s men to the summit, and El Mago was back amongst the assists to help the Blues bounce back from a New Year’s Day reverse at Sunderland with an impressive January haul.
Defeats to Everton, Swansea and Arsenal looked to have ripped City’s title hopes to shreds with rivals United poised to sail to another title success. However, in Typical City fashion, the season would take the most dramatic of twists and Silva was an imperative cog in the machine, as Mancini’s men rallied to swing the pendulum back into our favour.
As United stuttered, City capitalised, clawing the blue half of Manchester back into the title race. A goal and an assist for Silva in pivotal (and goal difference-bolstering) triumphs over West Brom and Norwich aided the fightback – but the Spaniard would have a much bigger part to play in this blockbuster finale.
Come the final day of April, City were right back in the hunt and as fate would have it, were handed the chance to place a firm grip on the Premier League trophy, as challengers United visited the Etihad Stadium.
The night, charged with an electric atmosphere, crackling with excitement, will be forever remembered for captain Vincent Kompany, whose thumping header on the brink of half-time put City in pole position for a first Premier League crown with just two games remaining. Who provided the assist? Designated corner taker David Silva!
Yaya Toure was then the star of the show at St James’ Park, as City triumphed at Newcastle, but once again, Silva would play his part to help the Blues to Premier League glory on that astonishing day in May 2012 when relegation-threatened Queens Park Rangers visited Champions-elect City.
Of course, that topsy-turvy, terrific encounter is not remembered for its assists, although the ever-entertaining Balotelli’s flick to Aguero for that unforgettable winner did prove to be his only one for the Club! In the shadow of the ‘Aguerooooooo’ moment, Pablo Zabaleta and Edin Dzeko’s goals are often regarded as ‘the forgotten goals’ and therefore, Silva (who crossed for Dzeko’s leveller) has a ‘forgotten assist!’
It is only fitting that that team completed that rollercoaster campaign as Champions. The fact the feat was achieved in such sensational style only made the accomplishment all the more special.
It was a feat which simply could not have been reached without the influence of David Silva – the league’s top assist maker. His contribution was deservedly recognised with City’s Players’ Player of the Year award and a first inclusion in the 2011/12 Premier League Team of the Year.
Riding on the crest of the wave, World Cup winner Silva starred again for his country, stirring Spain to more international success, as La Roja lifted the 2012 European Championships. Finishing the tournament with the highest number of assists and direct goal contributions (scoring two goals, including one in the Final), he was named in the UEFA European Championship Team of the Tournament.
Capping an incredible few months, which also garnered Community Shield success, City secured his services for a further five years – much to the delight of the City faithful – with Silva targeting even more silverware for club and country.
“I feel very happy here at the Club, in the city and with all the people,” he stated.
“Being here really does feel like home for me. We've won the Premier League title and two other trophies too, and the team is growing. We are now aiming for the Champions League.”
Disappointingly, the 2012/13 season would not deliver those targets, as City stumbled, surrendering the league title, falling at the first hurdles of the Champions League and League Cup and suffering a humiliating last-gasp defeat to Wigan in the FA Cup Final.
As with the rest of the squad, Silva was unable to hit the heights of the previous term, with a hamstring injury in autumn also hampering his progress. Even so, he completed the campaign with eight goals and 13 assists in all competitions and motivated by the setback of a substandard season, readied himself for a new campaign, which also brought a new era with a new face at the helm…
THE PELLEGRINI ERA
2013 - 2016
By Rob Pollard
The Roberto Mancini era had brought success and changed the mentality of the club. No longer were we perennial underachievers, cursed with a ‘Typical City’ hex - we were now winners, and despite his reign coming to a somewhat stuttering end, there could be no doubt we had progressed significantly under his watch.
But the club’s ownership felt a new direction was needed.
In came Manuel Pellegrini, the man they felt could release the handbrake and turn Mancini’s well-drilled, robust outfit into something more resplendent and forward-thinking. The Chilean had a reputation for encouraging open, attacking football, and that was the direction chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak wanted to go in.
Managerial appointments are often made in reaction to the previous one, and Pellegrini could not have been more different from his predecessor. Where Mancini was tempestuous and charismatic, Pellegrini was considered and courteous, perhaps even a little dull. After some dressing room unrest as Mancini’s time came to a close, serenity was needed, and Pellegrini certainly offered that.
No matter the style of the manager, David Silva was by now central to everything City did, and he flourished under the new coach.
Pellegrini’s first season was outstanding. We qualified for our first League Cup final in 38 years with a record 9-0 aggregate semi-final win over West Ham, and a 3-1 victory over Sunderland in the final secured the first piece of major silverware in the Pellegrini era. We also added the Premier League title – our second in three seasons – finishing above Liverpool in a dramatic race.
The Merseysiders established a five-point lead at the top of the table as late as April 20, but they slipped and wobbled as City found focus and ended the season two points ahead. It was one of the most memorable run-ins in living memory.
City scored a remarkable 156 goals in all competitions over the course of the 2013-14 season, established a run of 20 games unbeaten between November and February, including 18 wins, and secured the club's first qualification from the group stages of the Champions League. A quality of football that surpassed anything the team managed under Mancini.
And Silva was central to it all. He played 40 times in all competitions and was wonderfully consistent, producing a starring role in the League Cup final and our 3-0 win over Manchester United.
But perhaps his finest performance came in our hour of most serious need. With City third in the table behind Liverpool and Chelsea with 12 matches remaining, a win at Hull City on March 15 was vital, but inside ten minutes and inspirational captain Vincent Kompany was sent off for a foul on Nikica Jelavic.
The game – and our title hopes – seemed over, but Silva produced a mesmeric display full of vision, skill and technical quality; a virtuoso performance that saw his ability to conduct the orchestra cast in full colour. Hull couldn’t live with him. He scored a beauty four minutes after Kompany’s dismissal and produced a fine outside-of-the-boot pass in the build up to Edin Dezeko’s 90th-minute strike to secure a critical 2-0 win. He was withdrawn a minute later, Pellegini offering the travelling supporters an opportunity to show their appreciation for what they had just witnessed.
The result sparked City into life. We dropped just seven points from our final 11 matches - a magnificent run that saw us pounce on the title as Liverpool faltered and slipped in the final weeks. That game, unquestionably, was the turning point, and Silva himself looks back on that as one of his favourite matches during his time at City.
Our final-day victory over West Ham secured the triumph, as we finished two points clear of Liverpool, a side widely praised for much of the campaign.
Silva ended the season with two trophies, eight goals and 16 assists yet was inexplicably absent from the PFA Team of the Year. Boiling his contribution down to mere numbers fails to capture his overall impact. This was Yaya Toure’s season – the Ivorian producing a run of form the like of which we’re unlikely to see again – but Silva was the man who knitted City’s play together, always with time on the ball and an ability to retain possession.
That summer, he signed a new five-year deal, saying: “Over the last four years, we have achieved so much together, establishing City as a dominating force in England and now, when I look around this dressing room, I can see no reason why we won’t become one of the top teams in the world.
“It was a straightforward decision to extend my stay here and spend my peak years at Manchester City, a club with unbelievable fans who have always supported me.”
And ahead of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, Silva told reporters Pellegrini’s appointment had been an important one for his development, with the fluid brand of football the manager had initiated taking his game up a level.
"Pellegrini becoming coach has worked out very well,” he said. “We have scored a lot of goals and it is crucial for my game to play his style of football. For that reason, I think people appreciate me more."
The 2014-15 season started in much the same vein, with City joint top of the table on New Year’s Day after a Christmas period that saw Silva score four in three games, including one at West Brom that capped a sensational man-of-the-match display.
But the new year saw a significant dip in City’s form, and with it began the unravelling of Pellegrini’s tenure. We lost eight league matches in the second half of the campaign, finishing in second place, eight points adrift of Chelsea, and exited the Champions League at the last-16 stage at the hands of Barcelona. It was a bitterly disappointing few months.
The following season saw us win the League Cup again – beating Liverpool in the final – and progress to the semi-finals of the Champions League for the first time, losing 1-0 to Real Madrid.
But perhaps the most significant moment came in early February when Pellegrini announced he would leave at the end of the season to make way for the arrival of Pep Guardiola.
"I talked to the club and I will finish my contract on the original date," Pellegrini said.
"We signed a contract for one more year, but with a clause that one of the club or me cannot use that extended contract. So I will finish here on the original date.
"They are not doing anything behind me. I knew this a month ago. But I don't think it's good, this rumour and speculation about different things. I would prefer to finish the speculation today. That's why I told the press, I told the players, and I spoke with the club two weeks ago saying that I would do it."
Guardiola had won 14 trophies in four years at Barcelona before enjoying more success at Bayern Munich. He was seen as the best manager in world football. City could not pass on the opportunity to hire him.
And for Silva, that surely would be a match made in heaven? A manager with exacting standards, a deep commitment to possession-based football, and one obsessed with winning in style.
The best of Silva’s time at City was yet to come.
2016 - 2019
By Neil Leigh
The prospect of Pep Guardiola becoming manager of Manchester City had long been mooted and the confirmation that Catalan would be taking charge in the summer of 2016 initiated a surge of excitement and anticipation throughout the English game.
That state of heightened expectation was understandable given Guardiola’s standing as one of post-war football’s most innovative, astute tactical minds and inspirational coaches.
But what was perhaps overlooked was the profound impact that Pep’s arrival would have on David Silva’s career.
At 30, Silva was arguably in his footballing prime when Guardiola arrived to succeed Manuel Pellegrini.
And if ever there a football meeting of minds it was surely the pairing of the new manager’s coaching acumen allied to Silva’s on-field sorcery.
It was a partnership that personified a perfect union.
In many ways Silva was the very embodiment of Guardiola’s template for the ideal player.
El Mago melded Pep’s core principles of utilising space, movement, time, athleticism, courage and, above all, supreme football intelligence into a dazzling kaleidoscope of aesthetic beauty.
Guardiola’s first season at the Etihad helm was to be one of consolidation for both manager and his players as the squad adjusted.
Silva though instantly and seamlessly flourished under Guardiola’s leadership.
Utilised mainly in the key central area of midfield, his consistency and excellence week in, week out were not only appreciated by the boss but also by his peers and supporters.
Though City were to end that 2016/17 campaign without a trophy, David’s own contribution was deservedly recognised as he was named our official Etihad Player of the Year – remarkably the first time he had been awarded the honour.
Silva – and City – would not have to wait long for more significant silverware to arrive, however.
A historic 2017/18 campaign was to see Guardiola’s City reign take full flight in majestic, record breaking fashion, with Silva one of the chief on-field conduits.
Having bolstered our squad that summer, City began the new season in emphatic fashion and didn’t look back with Silva’s creativity and vision never more apparent.
Crucial goals in back-to-back 2-1 wins against West Ham and Manchester United helped supplement a record-breaking 18 game winning run over the autumn and winter, further emphasising David’s all-round excellence and importance to the cause.
There was another boost when the Club revealed Silva had further extended his stay by signing a one-year extension to his City contract, taking him through to the summer of 2020.
And it was clear he was revelling in his role under Guardiola.
“I am so happy to have committed my future to City,” Silva stated.
“I am incredibly proud of what I have achieved at City in my seven-and-a-half seasons here and with Pep in charge, I feel we are in a great position to win trophies this season and beyond.”
With City rewriting a host of records, Silva’s words were to prove prophetic.
“I am so happy to have committed my future to City,” Silva stated.
“I am incredibly proud of what I have achieved at City in my seven-and-a-half seasons here and with Pep in charge, I feel we are in a great position to win trophies this season and beyond.”
With City rewriting a host of records, Silva’s words were to prove prophetic.
However, life was to throw up the most emotional and testing off-field challenge for David following the premature birth of baby son Mateo in December 2017.
It was a hugely worrying time for Silva and partner Yessica with Mateo having to spend the first five months of his life in hospital in Spain as he received specialist medical care.
Solidarity and total support for David and his family from the Club was unequivocal.
Addressing the players before our home game with Spurs later that month, Guardiola’s message to the squad was simple.
“Today you have to win for one reason. We have to win for David and for Yessica,” he declared. City more than delivered, securing a superb 4-1 triumph.
With the Club offering every assistance possible, Silva spent that fraught period travelling between Valencia and Manchester.
Happily, Mateo was eventually able to leave hospital with his parents in May of 2018. But reflecting on that period, David admitted it affected him like nothing before – and spoke of his gratitude for the support offered by Pep and the Club.
“They were the hardest few months of my life,” Silva reflected. “I don’t think anyone can ever be prepared for something like that.
“Every time I went back home, I’d spend the entire time in hospital with Yessica and Mateo. I wasn’t eating properly and I’d only train for one day a week.
“I owe Pep Guardiola, my team-mates and the club so much. Everyone has been so supportive. I can never thank my teammates and the staff enough.”
That support was more than reciprocated by David’s displays which bore testament to his mental fortitude and inner strength as well as his total professionalism.
On the pitch, the first tangible fruits of Guardiola’s reign were harvested at Wembley in February 2018 as City secured the Carabao Cup in emphatic fashion courtesy of a 3-0 win over Arsenal.
Silva’s second half goal rounded off a quite wonderful afternoon and secured his third League Cup winners’ medal in four years.
Just to reinforce Silva’s magnificence, he then delivered a Monday night masterclass away at Stoke in late winter – the archetypical barometer for the true test of a superstar’s mettle – scoring two sumptuous goals just for good measure.
It was the complete display that married silk with steel and was one not lost on Guardiola.
“There is no-one like him. There are no doubts about his skills, but after that, in the bad moments he is always there,” the boss asserted.
“He’s a huge competitor. He doesn’t speak too much but, on the pitch, the moment the game is on, he steps forward. He never hides, even when the going is tough.”
By April, the Premier League crown was secured – the third title for both City and Silva in just six years but arguably the most satisfying yet given the majestic manner in which it was clinched.
One by one, the records went tumbling as Guardiola’s Centurions left our rivals trailing. Most points (100), most away points (50), most points ahead of second (19), most wins (32), most away wins (16), most goals (106), best goal difference (+79) and most consecutive victories (18).
It was a season that saw City establish a beguiling new template for a brand of beautiful football seldom seen before on these shores, with Silva the master craftsman, painting dazzling brushstrokes of vivid blue.
A tally of 10 goals and 14 assists barely did justice to El Mago’s enormous impact and influence.
Yet, astonishingly, even better was to come for both City and Silva in 2018/19.
The campaign got off to a heart-warming start in our first home game against Huddersfield as David took to the field cradling a healthy and beaming Mateo – who was appropriately kitted out in City colours.
City subsequently powered to a 6-1 triumph inspired by another Silva masterclass with El Mago also on target.
The victory acted as the perfect precursor for the season as whole as the Club once again created English football history this time by becoming the Fourmidables – the first team to win all four domestic trophies.
Silva’s immense influence that season was perhaps best illustrated in another dynamic and destructive derby display in November as City overwhelmed Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United 3-1 at the Etihad.
Meetings with our biggest rivals always tended to bring the best out of El Mago and that game was no exception with Silva scoring our opening goal and then being at the heart of our staggering 44-pass move that led to Ilkay Gundogan’s mesmeric third goal that sealed the deal.
At 32, Silva was playing some of the most sumptuous football of his career and his City colleagues followed suit as trophy followed upon trophy.
A second successive Carabao Cup success arrived in February 2019 – Silva’s fourth League Cup winners medal in all - thanks to a 4-3 penalty shoot-out win over Chelsea.
Then, following the most hard-fought of title races, City secured a second successive Premier League crown on the final day of the season – our 4-1 win at Brighton ensuring Silva and Co claimed the title by a point from Liverpool.
Seven days later El Mago set the seal on a season like no other by opening the scoring at Wembley as City competed an unprecedented clean sweep of domestic silverware by crushing Watford 6-0 to win the 2019 FA Cup final cementing our status as England’s pre-eminent side.
His season’s stats of 10 goals and 14 assists mirrored those of the previous campaign – but his influence and impact was impossible to properly quantify by figures alone.
Suffice to say that master alchemist Silva had once again helped transform everything he touched into footballing gold.
2019 - 20
During 2018/19, David made 50 appearances for the Club – his second-best seasonal tally – as well as equalling his best goals haul of 10. It had been a remarkable season for the now 33-year-old and for the first time in his professional career, could look forward to a complete rest over the summer with no international commitments.
He was entering the final year of his current deal, and though City were keen to extend his stay beyond 2020, he had already made another difficult decision. In June 2019, while back home in Gran Canaria, he revealed that the last year of his current deal with City would also been his final year with the Club.
“This is the last one,” he revealed. “Ten years for me is enough. It’s the perfect time for me.
“Initially, City were talking about two more years. It completes the cycle. It’s a nice round figure. I can never see myself playing against City for another team. So 10 years – that’s it.”
The words City fans had dreaded hearing were finally a reality. He had won four Premier League titles, two FA Cups, four Carabao Cups and three FA Community Shields while with City and it was perhaps only a Champions League winner’s medal that was the notable absentee from his personal collection. David returned to City for pre-season training in July and following Vincent Kompany’s departure, his team-mates voted him to be the new captain.
The Club had a new leader and, now 33, Silva couldn’t have been any prouder to have taken on the skipper’s armband for City. He had the total respect of everyone at the Club – manager, team-mates, staff and supporters – and he was determined to enjoy what would be his final campaign in sky blue. He initially led the team out at Wembley in the Community Shield clash with Liverpool and assisted Raheem Sterling’s goal as City eventually won the game on penalties.
Pep Guardiola later confirmed what everybody had second-guessed when he admitted, "David Silva will be our captain. Normally, the captain is the life of the locker room - they know each other; they have fun a lot when they are together. There will be no problem. He will be a good captain."
The 2019/20 season would be like no other in more ways than one.
Liverpool’s relentless winning streak meant every mistake City made was punished and by Christmas, it was clear that David wouldn’t cap his final season with his fifth Premier League title, but at the start of March, he did lift the second trophy of his captaincy as City beat Aston Villa 2-1 in the Carabao Cup final – his fifth League Cup triumph which, along with Sergio Aguero and Fernandinho, is a record – and played for 77 minutes before being replaced by Bernardo Silva.
It was his 14th winner’s medal with Manchester City – no player has won more.
As he began to lead the team up the steps to collect the trophy, he was advised that, as captain, he should wait until the last so he could then lift the Carabao Cup – which he duly did.
David later tweeted to almost four million followers: “Great job guys! Another one and that makes five!” He received a rapturous welcome from the City fans as he left the pitch, but with City still in the FA Cup and Champions League, there was a real possibility of more silverware.
As with everything he does, he did it respectfully and with great dignity. Being in the limelight has never been something David particularly enjoyed, unless it under the floodlights of a football pitch, where the spotlight is inescapable for this magical footballer.
Of course, the pandemic meant football was suspended from early March to mid-June – surpassing the time David would have left the Club under normal circumstances, but his deal was extended to at least cover the possibility of reaching the Champions League final and when football returned, he was fit and raring to go – the consummate professional to the last.
Though Liverpool’s Premier League coronation remained an inevitability, City played a thrilling brand of football to compete the Premier League campaign, with David in sparkling form and firing in a couple of sublime free-kick goals along the way, just for good measure.
City couldn’t add an FA Cup final in the games that remained, losing to Arsenal in the semi-final, but if Real Madrid could be seen off in the second leg of the Champions League, there was still the possibility of a fairy-tale end to David’s City career.
He made his final Premier League appearance against Norwich City and as he left the pitch on 85 minutes, everyone allowed in the Etihad stood to applaud this genius of a footballer, trying to replicate the deafening ovation he would have received from a 55,000-capacity stadium.
That was the cruellest blow – that his adoring fans couldn’t be there to give him the send off he deserved, but he applauded al four corners of the ground anyway, in a symbolic acknowledgement of how things would have been.
He made a brief appearance from the bench on 81 minutes in the second leg against Real Madrid – his last game at the Etihad in a City shirt, as the team recorded a deserved 2-1 win over the La Liga giants to win a place in the quarter-finals in the one-off tournament-style end to the competition in Lisbon.
Lyon stood in the way of a place in the semi-finals, but as only seems to happen in the Champions League, everything that could go against City did on a deflating night against the French side. David started on the bench and wasn’t introduced until the 84th-minute, with Lyon 2-1 ahead.
The moment he stepped on to the turf, he entered the Club’s Top 10 all-time appearance list, levelling with Willie Donachie with his 436th appearance for City and become the first modern-ear player for 34 years to join the list.
So, even to his final act was to set yet another milestone and but for 59 cruel seconds when the prolific Raheem Sterling missed an open goal, to Dembele profiting from a rare Ederson mistake at the other to seal a 3-1 win for Lyon, his City career might yet have had the glorious end it deserved.
The stars just wouldn’t align.
And so the final chapter has ended. It’s hard to imagine a Manchester City side without David Silva in it and when he claimed that joining the Club was the best decision of his career, we can only say that one of Manchester City’s best ever decisions was signing David Silva.
A genuine Club legend who will never be forgotten. It’s has been a privilege, señor…