Silva sparkle runs out

Undoubtedly the best player for the club this season, Silva was brilliant as the campaign started, creating, cajoling, probing and providing the team’s best moments. His intelligent play and determined nature were key to City’s brilliant start.

But he has gone off the boil recently, and not surprisingly so either. This column noted earlier in the season the team’s reliance on the brilliant Spaniard, as they sought to play a short passing game which largely revolved around him. The former Valencia man was good enough for the first part of the campaign, but it is difficult for one player to keep such high standards through a whole season. Arsenal last year had a similar effect with Samir Nasri, but when his form tailed off, so did theirs. The same is now happening with Silva.

It is perhaps hardly surprising as the player nears exhaustion, being subbed frequently due to the toll on his body of playing every week in a high tempo league. He needs a break, evidently, and with every match he becomes that bit more tired, that bit more unable to influence the play the way he was able to earlier in the season. That is a great concern to City, who need him firing, and soon. Without that, they will struggle to keep pace at the top.

Ironically it is Nasri who is being tasked with picking up the baton and running with it. He showed skill and intelligence against Chelsea recently to help them to a vital three points, but the Frenchman has not shown the same level of incisiveness this year as he did last. City now, are struggling for someone to create, to prompt.

It is little wonder Carlos Tevez was brought back. For all his flaws, he remains a player who can control a game and make things happen, like Silva. If he can find his form, City can perhaps regain theirs. But it would be a less collective game. Tevez makes the play revolve around him, and as a striker, rather than a midfielder, that will require City to play more directly. That will give them less control of a game than they currently enjoy. But that may be what they need to find their form again.

The season is still far from over. But Manchester United have an easy run of games and City need to win theirs and beat their rivals in the next Manchester derby if they are to win the league. That requires a swift change. Tevez was the pragmatic choice, and with Sergio Aguero now injured, Mario Balotelli apparently untrustworthy according to Mancini in the papers today, and Edin Dzeko struggling, they need something and fast.