After 18 minutes into Sunday’s Premier League game against Everton, Manchester City fans found the perfect way to tell their side that it took more to find a breakthrough.
When a team looks like it might be lacking a bit of acumen, there’s no better time to recall the most prolific goalscorer in the club’s 127-year history.
“Sergio! Sergio!” the noise swelled from the South Stand and then around the entire Etihad Stadium.
There was an even more important reason to pay tribute to: Sergio Aguero, however, following reports over the weekend that Kun may be taking time off from his decorated career after a recent heart attack.
It was a message of love and support for a hero going through a difficult time, and if it inspired Agüero’s former teammates to pursue his latest salvo in City colours, so much the better.
In the corresponding match from last season, City concluded their Premier League title-winning campaign with a 5-0 win over a very obliging Everton and Aguero brought the house down with an unforgettable farewell brace.
As Rafael Benitez’s team went in for 44 minutes with no goals conceded after seeing just 20% of the ball, the void left by Agüero began to gape.
Raheem Sterling then spun away from Michael Keane to send Joao Cancelo’s ingenious loft pass with a half volley. Sergio would have liked to have named his own, putting City on course for an authoritative win and the perfect answer to Chelsea and Liverpool’s statement wins on Saturday.
Watford also enjoyed such a game, of course, and the early days of the season, when some people talked fanatically about a Manchester United title challenge, felt like vague memories of decades past.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s torment is now over and he leaves the stage at a time when the gap between the Manchester clubs has never been greater – an epitaph no United boss would ever want to attach to their work.
During his commentary at the Etihad Stadium, one of Old Trafford’s favorite sons, Gary Neville, spoke of his admiration for all of City’s organisation, from their style of play to Guardiola’s quality coaching and the sprawling City Football Academy adjacent to the ground where the grand vision comes all together. It felt a bit like a lament.
Towards the end of the game, when James McAtee made a glittering Premier League debut from the bench, Neville joked that City had started cloning mini-David Silvas.
McAtee replaced Cole Palmer, the academy’s next Phil Foden, who has been compared stylistically to Kevin De Bruyne and played in Aguero’s old position during his first league start. No pressure, huh?
But when City moves the ball so silky, there is none. People like Palmer and McAtee can look like they’ve been there for years, not minutes. Hymns to old favorites like Aguero are a celebration of great times enjoyed recently and promise more to come, not high demands.
Rodri thundered in a sensational second goal before Bernardo Silva completed the scoring, two players who have come out of form to reach the heights once again. Perhaps Sterling’s goal could be the catalyst for a similar renaissance?
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At Guardiola’s City, one doesn’t dwell on bumps in the road, just the prospect of further climbs. The Premier League champions are a team propelled by their recent history and inspired to create more.
When everything clicks into gear, as it did in the periods when Everton were stiflingly unable to escape their own third, that goal seems to be a force as powerful as the millstones of the past at Old Trafford are debilitating.
Whether your manager is a janitor, an interim or a permanent recruit, it will take some effort to restore that balance, with City still inspired by the deeds of Aguero and the heroes to come.