10 Current Sky Blues Who Are Among Manchester City's Best Ever Players
What a time to be writing about the 10 current Sky Blues who are among City's best ever, right? Until Pellegrini's men arguably saved their season against Hull City, the temptation would have been to change the article to "10 Current Sky Blues Who Should Consider Another Line of Work."
And if you think I wrote this first slide just to preempt a slew of comments questioning my sanity, well, you know me too well.
Not that it will work, in all likelihood.
The following 10 Sky Blues are ranked in ascending order, saving the best for last.
10. Edin Dzeko
As David Mooney put it for ESPN FC recently, Edin Dzeko was seemingly on his way out of Manchester until "he earned himself a reprieve with the equalising goal against QPR in May 2012, having not scored for the Blues in three months."
Yup, that's Dzeko for you.
There is no questioning his skill when he is right and, for the most part, his effort is always there.
He has scored many sensational, meaningful goals for City in his career even though he has spent much of that time stuck behind players like Carlos Tevez and Sergio Aguero.
Unfortunately, he is also capable of fluffing sitters, as Mooney also pointed out:
(Dzeko) should have buried one of his opportunities against Wigan (one open goal and one free header), and he should have secured the Premier League win over Stoke, instead of creating what will be the miss of the season.
In truth, Dzeko makes this list because getting to 10 was not an easy task.
9. Gareth Barry
Right, so Barry is not part of Manuel Pellegrini's Traveling Magic Show these days. That does not mean he does not belong on this list.
In much the same way as James Milner is undervalued, so is Barry. Very few people have ever bought a ticket to a football match and said, "oh, wow, this is amazing, I get to watch Gareth Barry play!"
That does not mean Barry is not a great player. He is (or at least he was).
Plus, Barry's move from Aston Villa was one of the series of splashy moves that heralded City as a club who would spend what it took to get what they wanted.
The club's website says it best:
His move to City in June 2009 was controversial with the Villa support but has proved extremely successful – Barry picked up an FA Cup winners medal in 2011 and played a key role in the Blues’ Premier League title success in 2012.
Barry's accomplishments as a Sky Blue are certainly enough to put him on this list, even if he played better football elsewhere.
8. Joleon Lescott
The trouble with players staying in your favorite team's kit a bit longer than you want them to is that the sadder, disappointing memories created last tend to obscure the good ones the player created at his peak.
So it goes for Joleon Lescott at Manchester City.
Lescott is finishing up the last year of his contract with City amid rumours that he might have gone on a free transfer to a much lesser club like West Ham United this past January. His playing time has been reduced to the domestic cup preliminaries and any day where Martin Demichelis is suspended.
But hopefully in time City fans will remember what a terrifying tandem Lescott formed with Vincent Kompany in that championship 2011-12 season, or what a horse Lescott was at the back that season when he started 30 times.
Ironically, it was the last match of that season—when Lescott negligently headed a back pass intended for Joe Hart straight to Djibril Cisse—that began Lescott's end. Roberto Mancini never trusted Lescott the same way again after that.
Still, on a current roster that is a bit short of real City legends, Lescott belongs here.
7. James Milner
James Milner is no one's idea of an electric creator or prolific scorer.
Playing with the likes of Yaya Toure, Samir Nasri and David Silva, Milner is usually tasked with tracking back when one of their runs yields a turnover and a counter-attack.
Then Milner intercepts a pass, or just deflects it out of bounds, and the temporary panic is over. Manchester City then resets, and Milner drifts back into the scenery again.
He has been doing this sort of thing now for almost four full seasons at City. It is never spectacular but at least when the manager puts Milner on the team sheet he knows Milner will give him a full and honest run.
Like the prior three men on this list, Milner gets a bump from the 2011-12 title run and the dearth of quality behind him on the current roster.
Unless you preferred Javi Garcia or Scott Sinclair here, in which case, well, sorry.
6. Pablo Zabaleta
Maybe it was because the season as a whole was sort of a disappointment. Maybe it was because Sergio Aguero and Vincent Kompany missed time with injuries. Maybe it was just a fluke.
But it was Pablo Zabaleta and not any of the supernovas that don sky blue who won City's Player of the Year for 2012-13.
In that vote, Zabaleta "received 68 percent of the votes polled by official supporters’ clubs and fans online after a superb season during which he clocked up 42 appearances and scored three goals."
The release went on to say that Zabaleta's "numerous gashes, bumps and scrapes have endeared him to City fans for whom he has become a cult hero over the past few years."
As have, perhaps, his occasional run-ins with authority.
At least you cannot accuse him of not caring enough.
5. David Silva
As I have written before, my father often told me that as an employer the one thing he was willing to pay his employees for was irreplaceability.
David Silva is an irreplaceable piece for Manchester City, and he has been for a few years.
He cannot rate higher on this list for two reasons. He is slight and can therefore get knocked off the ball (when the opposition catches him, that is). And he is not a prolific goal scorer.
But the plays Silva creates with his telekinetic vision and his deft, delicate ball movement are completely unique to him on this City side.
Even longtime Sky Blues fans would be hard-pressed to name another midfielder in City's history capable of the things Silva routinely does with the ball at his feet.
4. Joe Hart
Justifying Joe Hart's place on this list is as easy as 1-2-3.
Hart was so good for so long that when his form finally did crack noticeably, manager Manuel Pellegrini arguably stuck with Hart a few matches longer than he should have, to the team's detriment.
Hart's role in the straits City find themselves in now, adrift from the top of the Premier League table by six points, has repeatedly fueled speculation, per the Daily Mirror, that City might move to bring in a more capable man to challenge him for his spot.
Again, though, even if Hart never plays another match for City, his role in securing the 2010-11 FA Cup and the 2011-12 Premier League crown, and his three consecutive Golden Gloves awards cement his place here.
3. Sergio Aguero
Oh, go ahead. Watch it one more time.
Sergio Aguero has scored 50 Premier League goals for Manchester City, among the quickest to do so in league history. Many of them were drop dead gorgeous.
But none of them resonate at all like the one he scored against Queens Park Rangers to secure City's first Premier League title.
Normally it is hyperbole to suggest that one goal could make a player immortal to a club.
Not so with Aguero and that goal.
2. Yaya Toure
It took some doing getting here, but we have finally reached the point where the players we are discussing are no doubt about it, lock it down all-time City greats.
Yes, I know, this list has 10 players on it and we're at No. 2. Don't blame me, blame the last eight guys on this list for not being better players.
Anyway, Yaya Toure has been City's dominant midfield force since he arrived at the Etihad, and he remains so today.
Further, like so many great players, Yaya shows up when the heavy money is in the middle of the table and someone has to make a move for it.
It was Yaya's goal against Stoke City at Wembley in the 2011 FA Cup final that brought City their first trophy of any kind in 35 years.
And it was Yaya's goal against Sunderland at Wembley that drew City level in the Capital One Cup final this season, a goal that sparked a sky blue resurgence and ultimately City's trophy win.
There is only one Yaya Toure.
1. Vincent Kompany
My confidence level for some of the picks that came before this one is only so-so. But I will not yield as to this choice.
As a threshold issue, City as a club have not had a plethora of great centre-backs through their history. A big part of the reason City have had so many struggles over the years is that you can only hope to win so many 4-3 matches in a given season.
Vincent Kompany is that rare centre-back who makes the lesser players around him better and often boldly covers their mistakes when others would shrink from the task.
Kompany could have played in any era, such is his combination of size, strength, speed and pitch sense.
And the fact that he captained City's only Premier League title-winning side sure does not hurt his cause.