Not everything about running a football team is glamorous.
The big-money signings during the summer and champagne showers the following spring after winning a trophy sometimes make it seem that way, but what the very best sides have come to know is that the nitty gritty of day-to-day club management—maintaining a stable organization and retaining the best players in the squad—is just as important as the big splashes.
On Saturday, Manchester City did a neat little piece of business, extending Sergio Aguero’s contract an extra season to the end of the 2016-17 campaign. The Argentine will be 28 years old when the pact expires, which means he’ll be playing out his prime years at Etihad Stadium.
“I’m very happy at City and I feel very appreciated,” the forward told the club’s official website. “It’s been barely two years since I’ve arrived and sometimes I feel like I’ve been here all my life.”
He scored 23 Premier League goals in his first season at Eastlands—the 23rd coming well into second-half stoppage time on the final day of the campaign to seal a memorable title win for City. Injuries limited him to only 29 appearances and 12 goals in 2012-13, but with his knee and hamstring problems behind him, he is anticipating a return to full effectiveness next term.
“Now I am looking forward to next season and pushing hard to win the title again,” he said.
And to regain it, City will need him to be what he has shown every sign of becoming: their very best player.
At his best, Aguero is one of English football’s finest dribblers—a player who can take the ball from the centre of the pitch to the attacking third in a matter of seconds. He also uses his teammates well—averaging nearly 25 passes per match—and isn’t afraid to pull the trigger from just about anywhere.
In 2011-12 he took an impressive 135 shots (only Gareth Bale, Clint Dempsey, Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie had more attempts), and despite making considerably fewer performances this past season, he still had a go on 82 occasions.
But it is his ability to come up big when the chips are down that City will really be counting on as they look to win back the title from Manchester United.
Aguero’s goal against Queens Park Rangers on the final day of last season was his eighth match-winner of the campaign—a category only Rooney and Van Persie bested him in. City came to expect heroics from him, and more than any other player in the squad, he delivered them.
With Carlos Tevez’s future up in the air heading into the summer and Edin Dzeko likely exiting the club, Aguero’s importance to the cause figures to be even greater going forward. While City are likely to sign one or two strikers in the transfer window, they already have their No. 1 man under wraps for the next four seasons.
City have proved they can acquire some of the biggest names in world football. On Saturday, they showed they can hold on to them as well.