Silva service shines as Manuel Pellegrini brings in sense of freedom and joy to Manchester City

 

Before Manchester City's last meeting with Chelsea, in the FA Cup semi-final at Wembley in April, David Silva faced the uncertainty of a late fitness test, which he failed. City went on to win 2-1 in any case with Sergio Aguero, who had also been doubtful, scoring the crucial goal.

The London club would doubtless love the same pair to be in danger of missing today's game at Stamford Bridge but it seems the best news they can hope for is what they already know – the absence of centre-half and captain Vincent Kompany, of whom Chelsea's fellow Belgian Eden Hazard has said: "When he plays, they win and when he doesn't play they lose, often."

City's defence has undeniably looked uncomfortable without their leader, Javi Garcia being no substitute, but in two away games over the past week the brilliance of Silva and Aguero has more than compensated. At West Ham last Saturday and then in Moscow in the Champions' League, they shone both individually and in combination, an understanding which they have built up over two full seasons of helping to achieve important victories.

"Everybody knows just how important Sergio is for us, he is a key man," Silva said. "But also we need to be in form as well, the guys who play just in behind him to create chances to keep scoring. Last season he only scored 12 goals in the League and he's already halfway towards that.

"I think he has a very good chance of being right up there in the goalscoring charts. If he is, then it helps the team and would show that we are scoring plenty of goals. Over the season we've been playing together and I've tried to help him score as many as possible, and I'll keep trying to create those chances for him."

Silva's goal at West Ham meant he has already reached half of his more modest total of four last season too, while accepting that his role as one of the two wide midfielders deployed in City's 4-2-3-1 formation is essentially more creator than finisher.

"It's always nice on a personal front when you get to score, so it felt good. But I recognise my role in the team is a little more diverse than that. I am there to help the strikers, and to create assists for the goalscorers – to help make the team tick and play, and to help the team defensively when I need to, so that's what I concentrate on."

He puts some unexpectedly poor away results early on down to the transition from Roberto Mancini to Manuel Pellegrini, who has nevertheless stuck to much the same system, while bringing in Fernandinho as Yaya Touré's defensive midfield partner and the powerful Alvaro Negredo as an alternative to Edin Dzeko as principal striker. What difference has the Chilean manager made?

"I think throughout your career you always learn from every manager you work with," Silva says. "Certainly Manuel has given us a certain amount of freedom and joy when we're out there in our football. And I think that is proved by the amount of goals we've been scoring as a team, but it's still a little bit early to judge how far we can go, and how far we can progress and achieve in terms of trophies.

"He is very calm, relaxed, and doesn't tend to lose his temper at all. And he transmits that calmness to the team. Obviously there are moments of tension, and any person can react in the heat of the moment, and in a game situation. But certainly he's a very calm guy."

Surprised that Chelsea have not found a regular place for his Spain team-mate Juan Mata, Silva believes they will be among this season's main title challengers. He also names Arsenal, Liverpool and Tottenham, though conspicuously not another Manchester team.

Three years in the city, and the City, have taught him a trick or two off the field as well as on it.

Chelsea v Manchester City is on Sky Sports 1 today, kick-off 4pm

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Suited and booted in the Lanvin show at the Paris menswear collections
fashionParis Fashion Week
Arts and Entertainment
Kara Tointon and Jeremy Piven star in Mr Selfridge
tvActress Kara Tointon on what to expect from Series 3
Voices
Winston Churchill, then prime minister, outside No 10 in June 1943
voicesA C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
Sport
footballBrighton vs Arsenal match report
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has spoken about the lack of opportunities for black British actors in the UK
film
News
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

Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project