David Silva leads Man City to glory as Pep Guardiola makes sentimental exception
Pep Guardiola isn't the sentimental type, but he broke with tradition at Wembley.
That's because Guardiola knows David Silva is worth making an exception for – and not just because he happens to be from Spain like he is.
It was fitting Guardiola made Silva his captain for the afternoon against Aston Villa in what could prove to be the last final of his glorious career with Manchester City before he leaves in May.
It felt even more fitting to see Silva lead his side up the famous steps to hoist the Carabao Cup aloft on behalf of a team that has taken a vice like grip on the trophy following this hat-trick of triumphs.
It was the first time the Spanish maestro had been the first one to get his hands on a piece of silverware. He's done it plenty of times in the past, but never like this.
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City can still go on and win the Champions League and FA Cup this season, but Guardiola knows Silva is not guaranteed to be involved should they reach these finals too.
So he took the chance to make Silva the centre of attention at the prize-giving, with a gesture that resembled Guardiola saying his own personal thank you to someone who has given remarkable service to the club.
Silva, 34, has been – and still is – one of the finest imports English football has ever seen, comparable to the likes of Thierry Henry, Gianfranco Zola, Cristiano Ronaldo and his team-mate Sergio Aguero.
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You could argue about who has been the best until the cows come home, but what is unquestionable is the incredible and relentless influence Silva has had on his team over the last decade.
His performance here was a welcome reminder of what he's all about. The man known as 'Merlin' just gets the job done with the minimum of fuss and fanfare.
It's the reason Guardiola ranks him among the true greats and he said of Silva earlier this season: "He will always be remembered as one of the biggest, biggest, biggest players ever to wear the Manchester City shirt.
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"He's not interested in giving interviews, social media, Twitter, Instagram, any of that. And it seems like people like David get less recognition than people who do that all day."
For the gazillionth time Silva used his wand of a left foot to orchestrate proceedings. Finding pockets of space where non seemed to exist and doing the simple things well to bring calm to the chaos. One miss-control on 68 minutes was a collector's item.
Since joining City from Valencia for £26m in 2010 Silva has now won 11 major trophies, made 423 appearances and scored 74 goals. It's safe to say City have got their money's worth.
It was just a shame some City supporters chose not to make the pilgrimage to London to see him shine on one of the greatest stages again.
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Several hundred City tickets went unsold, making a mockery of the Football League's decision to give a bigger allocation to the English champions.
Prince William was in the house, though and even the most famous Villa fan of all will have marvelled at the continued class of Silva as royalty watched it's footballing equivalent, someone deserving of his standing ovation when being replaced 13 minutes from time.
If Aguero is irreplaceable then what is Silva? The task could fall to the impressive Phil Foden. Good luck with that mate.
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