On February 24, Manchester City fans let out a huge sigh of relief as they were greeted by this headline in the sporting pages of the Sun newspaper.
Yaya Toure, one of the world’s most dominant midfielders saying the magic words ‘I want to stay at City forever.’ Fast forward 24 days, that’s right, 24 days and this headline kicks those same supporters right where it hurts.
Now we are being told that this decision to leave Manchester has nothing to do with money, which, is semi-believable as the Ivorian takes home a cool $280K a week but about principle. According to Toure’s agent, Dimitri Seluk, Yaya feels disrespected and that the club no longer wants him however this is where my confusion sets in.
City boss, Roberto Mancini has all but built his team around Toure. The Ivorian plays every game. The supporters absolutely worship him. And having met and chatted with Yaya myself, he didn’t come across as an arrogant, self centered footballer, who thinks the world owes him something.
With his contract almost up, you can’t help but question the timing of this announcement especially as it’s not the player doing the talking but the agent. Seluk knows that City cannot afford to lose their midfield lynchpin and with the uncertainty flowing and growing around the Etihad Stadium regarding Mancini, this could be the perfect time to up the ante on the club and give Yaya his dream payday.
After all, it was less than a month ago that he said and I quote, ‘I want to stay at City forever.’
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Following Sunday’s triumph as Anfield, Klopp was his usual jovial self and rightfully pleased with his side’s results over the last eight days. Klopp, speaking in his post-game television interview (above video):
“A perfect result against a strong opponent — a very, very good defending opponent. [The Liverpool players] did a good job in the last week — a good reaction on their results; they defended really good; closed their gaps. … It was a difficult game. We had to change in the second half. … It was difficult — the wind and the opponent, but the result is perfect.”
“All we need is (defensive) stability. Everybody can see our skills on offense when we can play and have a little bit of space. Of course we can create more chances and can play better passes in some situations, but for a few players it’s really hard in this moment because they have to play always. … I’m really proud tonight.”
Easily the toughest part of competing in Europa League is the quick return to Premier League action from Thursday to Sunday, well over half the time against a side that didn’t any one of Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday. Playing in the Europa League has cost clubs like Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur an unbelievable (though, relatively unquantifiable) number of points in their respective bids to break back into the PL’s top-four over the last few seasons. There’s a reason Slaven Bilic‘s West Ham United essentially punted on the Europa League back in August.
The most notable storyline heading into this match was Diego Costa‘s reported feud with Jose Mourinho, and the Chelsea boss opted to use Pedro up top instead of his best center forward. The play was even, and Chelsea probably looked the better for a goal, and Costa remained unused before tossing his bib toward Mourinho. Surely more to come. From the Spurs’ angle, the North London side missed a chance to assert itself as a title contestant. Mauricio Pochettino‘s side remains four points back of first place.
Not much to like here, and Liverpool could’ve scored several times before Swans’ Neil Taylor gave up a penalty by keeping his arms out as he turned away from Jordon Ibe’s cross. James Milner converted, sending Jurgen Klopp‘s side closer to the Top Four (four points back of No. 4 Arsenal).
A simply-gorgeous free kick goal from Mauro Zarate was on of several good bits of work by the home side, but Winston Reid picked up an own goal on his 150th West Ham appearance to leave this one a draw.