Better late than never - Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero finds form

City striker, who escapes censure for stamp on Chelsea’s Luiz, has until now struggled to match highs of last season

Sergio Aguero has held on to what few forms of security he can find across the course of a challenging eight months, from which only now does he appear to be emerging with the old swagger and verve.

The Manchester City striker’s agent, Bruno Satin, is not one of those who vanishes from the picture when a player is assailed with unexpected troubles – in Aguero’s case, the split from his wife, Giannina Maradona, at the turn of the year. There are plenty around City who wish that Mario Balotelli had had  the kind of steadfast representation Satin has delivered. But the field of play has brought Aguero his share of troubles too, contributing to his most challenging season since his breakthrough year of 2010-11 at Atletico Madrid.

There was the ankle injury the 24-year-old sustained at Southampton in the first Premier League game of the season, knocking him out of his stride and keeping him out of the picture for a month. And when he finally made his return, there was his discovery that those players on whose fizzing interplay he always relies in his roving, predatory role were just not what they had been in the autumn of 2012. The goals have come – 15 now, after the header (a rare Aguero specimen) sealed City’s progress to the FA Cup final – but he believed after watching Balotelli dominate last summer’s European Championship that a player he has always profited from – Aguero and Balotelli were partners in last season’s 6-1 win at Old Trafford – would help him retain the giddy heights. Not so. Neither has Edin Dzeko been a powerful foil.

The “what ifs” are unmissable, when you talk to City’s players about the transformative effect of the last week – first, sweet victory at Manchester United and then Sunday’s FA Cup semi-final victory over Chelsea at Wembley. “You have to remember that we have a great team, a strong squad, that is capable of fighting to win more trophies. We could have done better,” Aguero said.

He will countenance no discussion of how, minus Europe, fewer games make a player fresher and it is clear that he wants to be in the thick of everything now the light nights are here. “Sometimes it’s better to have played more games, because it gives you greater playing rhythm,” he says.

So many Manchester City players have discovered in the past week what has been curiously missing for much of the season. Yaya Touré, odds-on to perform well on Wembley’s vast pitch, was a giant again on Sunday, and even Samir Nasri continued his own mini-renaissance after a difficult season.

“I wasn’t here when we won the FA Cup two years ago,” Nasri said after Sunday’s semi-final. “I have won the Premier League and the Community Shield with City, now there is only one I have missed – and I want to win it!” However, the Frenchman still looked like a man with the world on his shoulders in the post-match mixed zone. Sunday’s goal was his first since 24 October – that’s five months and 20 games without one. This summer gives him grounds for anxiety, when City will surely seek more dangerous players for his type of role.

The next significant target, after a rehearsal for the FA Cup final with Wigan Athletic’s arrival for tomorrow night’s Premier League tie, is a victory at White Hart Lane on Sunday which would see off beyond all doubt Tottenham Hotspur’s challenge for second spot. City’s hold on it at the moment is already very fragile.

“It gives us a chance to get a bit further away from [Spurs] and to be a bit calmer for the last few dates of the season,” Aguero said. Micah Richards, whose knee injury has destroyed a season in which he has played no part since October, will be in the squad for tomorrow’s match. David Silva, who has been carrying a hamstring injury, is likely to be saved for Tottenham at the weekend.

 Aguero’s double-footed challenge on Chelsea’s David Luiz was, as expected, the source of no retrospective action from the Football Association yesterday because the referee, Chris Foy, had seen the Argentine piling into the Brazilian (left). Retrospective red cards can only be issued if the official has not seen the incident. It was a curious moment, not typical of Aguero, who seemed to have gone in with intent, to judge by the stare he gave Luiz in the aftermath of the challenge.

 But it is something familiar and fine which has been restored in the player for now, with those around him back operating to the optimum. “It’s crucial that we try to win something every year, whether that’s a cup or the league,” Aguero reflected. “This year we cannot win the league. We are too far away. But this is an important cup in England, for the club, and for everyone.”

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Fraud contributes 11p to a £2.00 box of half a dozen eggs
Arts and Entertainment
A still from the Jurassic World trailer
film

Video: The official full-length trailer for the Jurassic Park sequel has dropped – two days early

Environment
The plant ‘Nepenthes zygon’ was donated to Kew in 2004
environment
Arts and Entertainment
booksPhotographer snapped celebrities for 40 years - but it wasn’t all fun and games
News
i100
Sport
Aguero - who single-handedly has kept City's Champions League dreams alive - celebrates his dramatic late winner
footballManchester City 3 Bayern Munich 2: Argentine's late hat-rick sees home side snatch vital victory
News
peopleSinger tells The Independent what life is like in rehab in an exclusive video interview
News
Muhammad Ali pictured in better health in 2006
peopleBut he has enjoyed publicity from his alleged near-death experience
Arts and Entertainment
Tony breaks into Ian Garrett's yacht and makes a shocking discovery
TVReview: Revelations continue to make this drama a tough watch
News
news
News
The assumption that women are not as competent in leadership positions as men are leads to increased stress in the workplace
science... and it's down to gender stereotypes
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
Nightclubbing with Richard Young: The story behind his latest book of celebrity photographs

24-Hour party person

Photographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years. As his latest book is released, he reveals that it wasn’t all fun and games
Michelle Obama's school dinners: America’s children have a message for the First Lady

A taste for rebellion

US children have started an online protest against Michelle Obama’s drive for healthy school meals by posting photos of their lunches
Colouring books for adults: How the French are going crazy for Crayolas

Colouring books for adults

How the French are going crazy for Crayolas
Jack Thorne's play 'Hope': What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

Playwright Jack Thorne's latest work 'Hope' poses the question to audiences
Ed Harcourt on Romeo Beckham and life as a court composer at Burberry

Call me Ed Mozart

Paloma Faith, Lana del Ray... Romeo Beckham. Ed Harcourt has proved that he can write for them all. But it took a personal crisis to turn him from indie star to writer-for-hire
10 best stocking fillers for foodies

Festive treats: 10 best stocking fillers for foodies

From boozy milk to wasabi, give the food-lover in your life some extra-special, unusual treats to wake up to on Christmas morning
Phil Hughes head injury: He had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Phil Hughes had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Prolific opener had world at his feet until Harmison and Flintoff bounced him
'I have an age of attraction that starts as low as four': How do you deal with a paedophile who has never committed a crime?

'I am a paedophile'

Is our approach to sex offenders helping to create more victims?
How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

Serco given Yarl’s Wood immigration contract despite ‘vast failings’
Green Party on the march in Bristol: From a lost deposit to victory

From a lost deposit to victory

Green Party on the march in Bristol
Putting the grot right into Santa's grotto

Winter blunderlands

Putting the grot into grotto
'It just came to us, why not do it naked?' London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital

'It just came to us, why not do it naked?'

London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital