8 The Daily Telegraph Monday 27 July 2020 *** Total Football Silva service ends with his golden touches By James Ducker NORTHERN FOOTBALL CORRESPONDENT dinary service truly deserves when the opportunity allows. “I have the feeling that the fans want to do it,” Guardiola said. As it was, Silva had to settle for being applauded by team-mates, and a dressing-room call from the City chairman, Khaldoon alMubarak, who thanked the midfielder after the game for everything he had done. Further, more lasting, tributes will follow once Silva has kicked his last ball for the club. “I will miss everything, to work every day with these amazing people at the club,” Silva said. “I didn’t expect this – I couldn’t imagine when I came here to win so many titles and in the way we won them – but the way people have treated me and my family for 10 years, I love all of them. Now we need to focus on the Champions League.” If there was a regret, it was that Silva was denied the goal his swansong in this competition deserved but there were plenty of other milestones to cherish. City’s third goal was the club’s 100th in the league this season and De Bruyne’s pass to Raheem Sterling brought him level with Henry’s record of 20 assists, set during the 2002-03 campaign. In De Bruyne’s eyes, he had already beaten Henry’s record, though. He was denied two assists, for goals also scored by Sterling, in the 3-0 wins over Arsenal. “I have got two more!” he said. “You guys took two away from me. I’m still claiming that one. For me I was already there!” It has been some season for Sterling, too. His goal was his 20th in the league, and 30th in all competitions, a tally he may yet add to in the Champions League. Not since Brian Kidd in 1976-77 had an Englishman scored 20 league goals in a season for City. A 16th clean sheet of the season was also enough to earn City’s goalkeeper, Ederson, the Golden Glove. Plenty of highlights, then, and a nice way to bow out of the Premier League for Silva before he sets his sights on winning the one major trophy still to elude him but there was little doubting the game’s City sign off in style at Etihad Stadium 102 Manchester City Jesus 11, De Bruyne 45, 90, Sterling 79, Mahrez 83 Norwich City 20 So, that’s it. The last the Premier League will see of David Silva, and the last it will witness of the Spaniard and Kevin De Bruyne pulling the strings together in central midfield for Manchester City. Good news for opponents, as poor Norwich will testify, bad news for those of us who enjoy watching masters at work, and a real shame City fans were denied a final opportunity to watch their special brand of artistry in the flesh. On an afternoon when City reached a century of league goals for the third time in seven seasons, Pep Guardiola avoided any injuries ahead of next month’s Champions League quest and Norwich slipped quietly out of the top flight, there was little doubting who the star turns were. De Bruyne scored two stunning goals and claimed his 20th assist of the campaign to equal former Arsenal striker Thierry Henry’s Premier League record but even the irrepressible Belgian 20 16 If there was a regret, it was that he was denied a goal on his Premier League swansong the top corner. Joyous. Were there glimpses here of how Guardiola might set up against Real Madrid in the Champions League? The choice of Joao Cancelo at left-back, with Benjamin Mendy and Oleksandr Zinchenko both left on the bench, was interesting and the Portuguese impressed. Norwich were gradually beaten City’s midfield talisman had him where he wanted him. De Bruyne dragged the ball back with his right foot and rolled it to his left before, in the same beautifully oiled movement, shifting it to his right with the instep of his left boot, then taking one more touch to create the angle to shoot and bending a stunning 20-yard bullet into stand-out moment. Already ahead courtesy of Gabriel Jesus’s closerange finish, step forward De Bruyne. De Bruyne had shown Marco Stiepermann enough of the ball to give the Norwich midfielder some hope of nicking it away but the moment his opponent stuck out a foot, his balance fleetingly compromised, might acknowledge that this was a day to pay particular tribute to his colleague’s own rare talents. Silva was afforded what Guardiola described as “the smallest standing ovation of all time” when he left the field in the 85th minute, even if the City manager made it clear that the club would give him the send-off his decade of extraorSouthampton and Sheffield United have both had seasons of contrasting fortunes. Having been crushed by Leicester City 9-0 before Christmas, Southampton were in freefall and Ralph Hasenhuttl’s days in charge seemed numbered. But they finished the season in 11th place, 18 points clear of relegation and unbeaten in seven games. Sheffield United, meanwhile, showed such unexpectedly good form in the earlier part of the campaign that there were whispers of European football beginning to circulate in South Yorkshire. Since lockdown, results have been poor and they slumped to a leggy finalday defeat to end the season in a still mightily impressive ninth place. “To finish in ninth is great, but I want them to remember the feeling “Amazing yes, especially after lockdown what we did was unbelievable,” said Hasenhuttl, reflecting on the season. “If we keep on working like this and come back fitter after the break we can keep developing.” Sheffield United had the better of the first half and deservedly led through John Lundstram’s goal, scored at the far post after Enda Stevens’s cross. Southampton improved hugely after the break and equalised through Adams’s powerful nearpost finish five minutes into the half. The former Sheffield United striker scored a second when he lashed home after the ball fell to him from Chris Basham’s clearance, before Ings added a third from the penalty spot after having been tripped by Oliver Norwood. of today, especially those last 20 minutes when we’ve not been at the standard that we have been,” said the ever-demanding Chris Wilder, the Sheffield manager. “We need to strengthen the squad like everybody does. It’s part of the growth and being in the Premier League. I’ll do my best to improve it from a recruitment point of view.” Player trading also looks to be high on Southampton’s agenda. Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg was left out of the squad as he finds himself the subject of bids from Everton and Tottenham Hotspur. Hasenhuttl insisted there was “no update”. Kyle Walker-Peters may make his stay at the club permanent this summer if negotiations with Tottenham’s Daniel Levy go smoothly. Another arrival will be central defender Mohammed Salisu, whose transfer from Real Valladolid is expected to be announced soon. One department where they do not need reinforcements is in attack. Danny Ings ends the season with 22 Premier League goals, one short of Golden Boot winner Jamie Vardy. On paper, strike partner Che Adams’s return of four looks rather less impressive, though each of those goals has come in the past six games, including two here against his former club.
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