Ya Ya Yaya Toure,
Ya Ya Yaya Toure,
So, before, he breaks away and he scores,
Oh Yaya Toure I think we should pay you some more!
For almost five years now, this version of the song has done the impossible and sounded sweeter to the ears of Manchester City fans than the original. The Sex Bomb from the Valleys has been no match for the steam train from the Ivory Coast that has powered the noisy neighbours to the top of division and, more importantly for some, of the City of Manchester.
Toure’s importance to this surging City side has been well documented by pundits, as Souness and Redknapp in particular regularly swoon over the monster in the middle and it’s easy to see why. His goals, assists and influence from the heart of midfield have been integral to City’s recent success and the plan B (or, in some cases, plan A) seems to have been “give it Yaya and he’ll do the rest”.
But it hasn’t always been quite this idyllic during Yaya’s stay at the Etihad. A refusal to publicly commit his future to the club, an agent with dollar signs for pupils and a supposed childlike insistence on having a corner piece of cake in his party bag have put a dampener on the Ivorian’s life in Lancashire and repeatedly linked him to the exit door. Most recently, former City boss Roberto Mancini, now in his second spell at the San Siro with Inter Milan, has expressed his continued admiration for the player he brought to Manchester from Barcelona and tried to tempt Toure to join his new project.
His goals, assists and influence from the heart of midfield have been integral to City’s recent success.
Mancini was ousted from the Etihad along with Carlos Tevez and Mario Balotelli due to their confrontational and aggressive styles having a detrimental influence on the club and it can be argued that Toure’s wantaway umming and arring every Summer has taken over as the club’s main transfer headache. It seems to be only Toure’s exceptional quality that forces the board to put up with this but with Yaya’s waning influence and 21-year old hotshot Paul Pogba constantly linked to the ageing City squad, they may be ready to cash in on their superstar.
Not even the most die-hard of City fans could argue that Yaya and the club are not in serious need of shaking up. Pellegrini’s insistence on playing the flat 4-4-2 that died with the retirements of Paul Scholes and Sir Alex Ferguson as a legitimate modern formation has drained the life out of Toure and Manchester City. Toure may have the size, strength and skill of two men, but he and his partner in the middle have been outnumbered time and again against the three man midfields of England and Europe’s top sides.
Toure’s best performances in a City shirt came last season when teams were unused to being barraged by the free-flowing attack that Pelligrini brought to the club, which released Toure by partnering him with the more defensive-minded Fernandinho and encouraging him to push on and join in with the likes of Aguero, Negredo and Silva. The Chilean also finally wrenched a dead ball from the misfiring Aleks Kolarov and was duly rewarded for asking Yaya if he fancied taking one every now and again, as the latter preceded to score 7 from his first 8 attempts.The lesser teams were blown away during this time but, during the latter stages of the season and bleeding into 2014/2015, City have found themselves easy to work out and, therefore, easy to stop.
Toure’s wantaway umming and arring every Summer has taken over as the club’s main transfer headache. It seems to be only Toure’s exceptional quality that forces the board to put up with this
It is no coincidence that City’s best run of form this season came when injuries forced them into adopting a more compact 4-2-3-1 and officially play David Silva in the hole. Heat maps show that he plays there every game anyway, but City pretending to play him out wide hurts the balance of the team and leaves even more space than 4-4-2 does inevitably. Toure has been left with too much responsibility and frequently drawn out of position by this misuse of Silva and if it frustrates the fans, chances are it’s starting to frustrate Yaya too.
Toure may relish a new challenge that will breathe life into his game and add to his already stellar CV. Even if some reports are to be believed that Pellegrini must alter his tactics or Txiki Begeristain will alter his staff list, Yaya may not be prepared to wait for this to happen. With a full set of domestic medals in his locker, it may be time to swap Manchester with Milan and head for a club that he feels will appreciate him more.
The change could also be of benefit to City, as the team needs to evolve from the current crop of first-generation players bought in the early years of the Mansour revolution. The team is getting older and younger talents are finding it hard to break into the side when such big names are filling the team sheet each week. No one player is bigger than the club, but as the aforementioned Pogba found as a youngster at Manchester United with Paul Scholes, the general rule is that when fit, Yaya plays.
With a full set of domestic medals in his locker, it may be time to swap Manchester with Milan and head for a club that he feels will appreciate him more.
Toure has been a fantastic servant to City and will undoubtedly go down as one of the greatest players in the club’s history. Cynics will say “What History?”, but with names such as Francis Lee, Mike Summerbee, Colin Bell and Uwe Rosler gracing the same list, Yaya is certainly in good company. It’s never nice to see your best players leave, but this situation could turn out to be in the best interests of all parties. Henry had to leave Arsenal, Beckham had to leave Manchester United, Gerrard has to leave Liverpool and maybe, just maybe, Toure has to leave City.