Time and time again at the Allianz Arena on Wednesday night, big Yaya Toure stood with his hands on his hips as another Manchester City move broke down.
The Ivorian midfielder was back in City’s lineup after missing the 2-2 draw with Arsenal last weekend, but on this showing he may not be in the starting lineup for much longer.
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After a busy travel week last week, he flew back to Africa to play for the Ivory Coast in their African Cup of Nations qualifier against Cameroon and scored in a 4-1 defeat, either the draining schedule are hampering Toure’s play or his powers are simply diminishing.
Toure, 31, is coming off the back of his best season in the Premier League, having score 20 goals during City’s title success in 2013-14. However, this term he has flattered to deceive and that’s no surprise if you consider the issues he suffered at the end of last season. Much was made of Toure’s feet-stomping after the club failed to acknowledge his birthday, with Toure’s agent threatening a move away from the club but all that has since been brushed under the carpet as Toure signed a new long-term deal this summer. The death of Toure’s brother, Ibrahim, hit him hard and he has since said that played a big part in his frustration with City towards the end of last season.
So far this season, Toure has yet to score in three PL outings and with the likes of Paris Saint-Germain said to be chasing him the City midfielder put in a truly inept display against Bayern in Bavaria on Wednesday. Toure looked like a lost man in midfield, wandering around with no purpose or positional sense and failing to track his runners back. He was far from his best and City even had to bring James Milner on to replace Samir Nasri and shift Milner into the center of midfield to do Toure’s legwork for him.
With his head seeming to be elsewhere in a pivotal game in City’s quest for European glory, fans of the Citizens will be worried and question his commitment to the cause. Their team did okay away at Munich without much threat going forward as Joe Hart made several good stops and they were only undone by a last minute stunner from Jerome Boateng. A narrow defeat in their opening Group E game against one of Europe’s best teams is hardly devastating but the lack of drive from midfield, in particular from Toure, is concerning. Their were no characteristic marauding runs from the lanky Ivorian, no crunching tackles and certainly no feeling of him grabbing the game by the scruff of the neck as he has always seemed to do over the past two to three seasons. That’s the reason why this particular display was so shocking. We are not used to seeing this from the former Barcelona star.
Let’s hope Toure’s poor start to the season is just a hangover from a turbulent summer in his professional and personal life, which was further compounded by the Ivory Coast’s disappointing display at the World Cup.
However, looking at the bigger picture here: is this just a blip or are we witnessing Toure’s powers diminish before us?