Men's Team

Matchday Live: ‘Bernardo one of the best in Europe’

Matchday Live: ‘Bernardo one of the best in Europe’
Andy Morrison and Shaun Goater hailed Bernardo Silva as ‘one of the best players in Europe.’

The Portugal star bagged a brilliant brace in Saturday night’s superb 3-1 win at Watford – his sixth and seventh goals of the season, maintaining his impressive purple patch with five goals in six games.

Pep Guardiola recently admitted the midfielder is ‘undroppable’ on current form - evident with a nomination for the playmaker in the Premier League's November Player of the Month award.

Reflecting on our victory at Vicarage Road, in which we set a new club record for top-flight league victories in a calendar year, our Matchday Live guests Morrison and Goater were equally full of praise, especially for Silva's stunning second goal.

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“It’s a reflection of where Bernardo is at in this moment in time,” Morrison purred. “He’s playing at the top of his game and is rightly Man of the Match game after game after game.

“It's just quality. His first touch is fantastic and he drifts inside but then the feel to put the ball into the top corner when the 'keeper’s got absolutely no chance… Again it’s every game we’re seeing this from Bernardo. Long may it continue.

“We’re in a really good moment. There are so many players in form. The bench will be itching to get on but Bernardo’s probably in the top two or three players in Europe at the moment.

“It’s the goals too, it’s the performance, it’s the energy… He starts the press and is rightfully getting the plaudits that he deserves.”

WATCH: Watford 1-3 City: Brief highlights

Goater echoed: “I was up on my feet! He just amazes me – his performances week in week out… He’s a real joy.

“You’re thinking, if you’re a Watford defender: ‘Keep his head down and perhaps keep him on his right foot’ but he lets him come in and once he comes inside, the strike is beautiful. The 'keeper has no chance - it just goes in the top corner.

“He has the quality to not only come in on his left foot but also deliver it. It’s a joy to watch these guys – they execute quality shots, control... That was just a beautiful finish.

“[For his first goal, it’s] the interplay between Jack Grealish, Raheem Sterling and Ilkay Gundogan. Then when Bernardo receives it, [Daniel Bachmann] thinks it’ll be flashed across the box but he does him with the eyes.

“It’s a quality finish. The finish was brilliant – it’s such an acute angle and he’s seen the goalkeeper lean in.

“The build-up before though: first the high press to win it back, then two or three quick passes and Bernardo’s on it.

“It was a brilliant performance – near perfect if we had the clean sheet but I loved the way we moved the ball. We also stopped the counter-attack at times, the front five and how they interchanged.

“We started like Formula 1 – straight out of the blocks! Everyone really put in a solid performance. I was really pleased.”

WATCH: Watford 1-3 City: Extended highlights

The triumph also saw Raheem Sterling net his 99th Premier League goal – a well-taken close-range header inside four minutes from Phil Foden’s pinpoint delivery.

The former City duo were delighted to see the winger also rekindle his scoring touch.

“With the form he's in at the moment, he looks like he’s going to score in every game,” said Morrison. “There’s an energy about him at the moment.

“Even as a defender, when I'm managing, nothing excites me more than giving the ball to a wide man in a one-on-one situation when they can’t double up: ‘Let’s see how good you are and let’s see how good the defender is.’

“Raheem, Riyad Mahrez, Grealish, that’s what sits me up and excites me and at the moment, every time he gets the ball, he looks like he's going to create something or he will move the opposition to a position where they’re vulnerable somewhere else.

“It’s a great vein of form he’s in at this moment in time.”

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The win moved City top of the table for the first time this season, lifting the Champions two points ahead of Chelsea and one point ahead of Liverpool.

Though Morrison admits there is still a long way to go, the former City defender is excited for what is to come with room for improvement.

“There are so many good things at the moment,” he declared. “Two away games in a week, six points, top of the league… but the manager will go away for me, sit down with the players and say: ‘We can still improve, there are so many areas we can be better at and to go on and retain the title and push on to the latter stages in the Champions League, we need to raise the standard a little bit.’

“In the past. this game would have been five, six, seven, eight. At the minute, with conceding the goal and not being ruthless – 3-1 is not in any way a reflection of the game – we’re in a good place but we can really kick on and still improve across the board.”

Goater agreed: “Pep will be saying: ‘This is the period when we start putting the pressure on.’

“The Christmas period becomes busy with the number of games coming up. Can we go to the next level? The form we're in, we should be able to but I think that will be his ask: ‘Okay, the next game: Can we get another three points and can we kick on to the next level?’”

Morrison also asserts City will not be fazed by the pressure of striving to retain top spot.

“From the first game of the season, when the first fixture is complete, Manchester City want to be on top of the league,” he continued.

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“If we can’t, then it’s the second game. We’ve got there now in December and such is the strength of the squad and form that we’re in, we’re almost like a machine at the minute.

“You create this momentum and it just keeps going from game to game. The players buy into it and believe in it.

“We did it last season when Ruben Dias came in – we just went on this run when we just didn’t look like we’d be beaten.

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“You can never take an eye off a game because the next one is the most important but we need to remember that when we talk about squad depth and the asks and questions: We have the strongest squad in European football bar any. We can’t use 'the squad being stretched' as an excuse.

“Every game, even if we’re down to the bare bones like in midweek, the starting XI was good enough to win any game of football in the Premier League.

“Every area of the Football Club will be looking at the best way to balance every game but the mindset is: ‘We’re Manchester City, we’re top of the league and we are expected to win.’

“It’s a pressure that the players and Club have embraced for many seasons now and they all will be.

“The victories come and it feels that way again and long may it continue.”

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