Yaya Toure: still capable of dominating games, or a spent force?
The Manchester City great has polarised opinion like few other players this season.
Certainly the statistics suggest the Ivorian’s time may be up. In City’s title winning season of 2013/1, Toure scored 20 goals and assisted nine times. Contrast that with five goals and five assists so far this season.
With all of their rivals floundering, it seems like the league is City’s to lose. Poor performances from players like Toure isn’t inspiring confidence in backing Manuel Pellegrini’s charges to be champions, or for Pellegrini to keep his job instead of red-hot favourite Pep Guardiola.
Loaded asked City fanzine editor Ric Turner of Blue Moon to find out the thoughts of the Etihad faithful.
Loaded: What have City fans made of Yaya Toure’s form so far this season?
Ric Turner: Toure polarises City fans like no other player I can recall. Some think he’s lazy and well past his best, whilst others think he possesses qualities that few other midfielders in the league can match. In reality, the truth is somewhere in the middle. He can still be a great asset to the team, if utilised correctly. But playing him as part of a midfield two, as Pellegrini so often does, is no longer playing to his strengths.
L: Should he be starting games as much as he is?
RT: At 32, I don’t think Toure is capable of playing twice a week anymore. When he does start, he needs to play further forward with two holding midfielders behind him. At other times, he should be used as an impact sub, brought on for the last 20 minutes to stretch tired defences with his combination of power and pace.
L: What do you make of comments from Toure’s agent that he could move on this summer?
RT: There’s a strong feeling amongst fans that this would be his last season at the club, so his agent’s comments didn’t come as a surprise. Having sold him on whilst at Barcelona, I think it’s unlikely Toure will feature in Guardiola’s plans next season.
L: What have you made of Toure’s feud with Borussia Dortmund’s Pierre Aubameyang?
RT: It’s pretty undignified to be honest, and it doesn’t reflect well on Toure. It smacks of sour grapes. He’s one of the best players City have ever had, but sometimes you just wish he’d keep he’d keep his thoughts to himself.
L: He’s undoubtedly a talented footballer, but what are his specific strengths that have been so vital?
RT: At his peak, it was hard to think of a similar player. His brute strength, raw pace, eye for goal and passing ability made him a pretty unique midfielder. He also stepped up on the big occasions when required.
L: Do you think Pep Guardiola will change the way City play next season if he is to sign?
RT: I think we’ll see wholesale changes in the way City play when Guardiola takes over, as he’s such an innovative coach. It promises to be an exciting time to be a Blue.
Loaded sports writer Pearse Corcoran has covered news, sport and entertainment for several national newspapers and radio stations in Ireland. Follow him on Twitter at @PearseCorcoran