While the rest of the footballing world are running out of superlatives, Bernardo Silva is still sprinting!
The Portugal man’s imperious display in City’s pivotal Premier League triumph over Liverpool was deservedly rewarded with the Man of the Match prize – and his influence in the crunch top-of-the-table clash was fundamental to the Blues’ success.
Even aside from the fact he claimed an assist for the opener, crossing for Sergio Aguero to control and convert with aplomb, Bernardo was (quite literally) everywhere.
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Defined as ‘a man possessed’, he covered an astonishing 13.7 kilometres (8.5 miles) – the most by any player in a Premier League game this season – chasing down every ball to harry the Reds and regain possession at every opportunity. Lungs of steel!
The Telegraph’s James Ducker described the midfielder as ‘part ballerina, part battering ram’, expressing his disbelief at the ‘combative’ efforts of a man who stands 5’ 6” with the slightest of figures, affectionately known as ‘The Little One’
Manager Pep Guardiola – an advocate of team work, workrate and of course, high-pressing – agreed: “He is the smallest one but he shows us that to play football, you don’t have to be tall or more physical. He did everything.
“He is incredible. I haven’t seen a performance like that in a while. It was clean and clever.
“I don’t even know what he’s done tonight!”
With awards of eights and nines in the player ratings, plus plenty of praise from his peers, Bernardo’s efforts certainly did not go unnoticed, backed up by remarkable numbers.
The 24-year-old tallied ten recoveries – the most of any City player – and made four interceptions, also achieving a passing accuracy of 83%.
A fans’ favourite, admired for his selflessness and insane ball control and retention abilities, Bernardo has established himself as one of the first names on Guardiola’s teamsheet.
He has an excellent relationship with his teammates both on and off the pitch – his importance to the squad clear for all to see, as Fernandinho declared.
“The Little One is very good,” the Brazilian hailed. "I think he showed his class
“He has showed his technique so many times, but today he was so aggressive, recovered so many balls and he proved he is very good – one of the best players in our team.
“He is so important for us.”
Bernardo would be the first to admit it took him a while to settle and adapt to the English game, but he is quickly becoming appreciated as one of the Premier League’s finest talents.
His ability was evident when the playmaker came up against City in the Champions League with Monaco, earning deserved acclaim as he helped the French outfit to the European semi-finals and Ligue 1 title.
Inspired by his new manager’s passion, Bernardo thrived under Guardiola’s tutelage and enjoyed a fruitful second half of his maiden campaign, helping the Blues to league and Carabao Cup success.
Determined to improve further and cement his place in the starting XI, the Portugal star returned to training early from World Cup duty, joining up with the Blues on our pre-season tour of the US. Guardiola was impressed with Bernardo’s commitment and the efforts put in to better himself.
City have reaped the benefits. The midfielder’s form has been crucial in the opening half of the campaign. He has clocked up 26 appearances, netting seven goals and registering seven assists, building a strong early case for the Player of the Season gong.
Additional performances akin to Thursday night’s and he may well run away with it!
Bernardo Silva played like a man possessed. He was everywhere, pressing at high intensity for 95 minutes. Made 10 ball recoveries, more than any player. One of the smallest on the pitch but played with the biggest heart. Unbelievable shift. #MCFC pic.twitter.com/jkwOZdMr8n— ManCityzens.com (@ManCityzenscom) January 3, 2019
Brilliant game.— Sam Matterface (@sammatterface) January 3, 2019
Thought City were the better side, Bernardo Silva was immense all night.
The battle for the title is on.
Can’t wait to watch it to unfold.
Bernardo Silva was incredible for City this evening. He’s such a brilliant player.— Matt (@FalseFirmino) January 3, 2019
Bernardo Silva: 13.7km 👀— Alex Mansfield (@el_mansfield) January 3, 2019
That’s superhuman. Already had tremendous respect, but gained a whole new level of appreciation