Toure calling the tune again for City

Premier League

Toure calling the tune again for City

It may have only been a short composition, but Yaya Toure and Manchester City were in harmony — the conductor of an orchestra that played as one.

City have been far from their fluid best in the early part of this campaign with their talisman, after a troubled summer, unable to hit the heights of last season.

But with a Toure goal of typical élan against Aston Villa, temporarily at least, City were in tune, and on song.

The Ivorian was finding the net, the travelling City fans were singing his name and they delivered the kind of display required by defending champions. Albeit for the final eight minutes.

Toure’s last goal in the league came against Villa back in May; it was a significant strike, as he notched up his 20th of the season, becoming only the second central midfielder of the Premier League era to do so.

It has been far from plain sailing since though, and the criticism, much of it over the top, has come his way after nine games without finding the net.

Inevitably, after last season, there is an expectancy on Toure to deliver another campaign of such quality and one measured in goals.

Although the player himself maintains his remit within the City side is a much broader one. The conductor seemingly believes he is also there to maximise the talents of others.

“Sometimes people forget I’m a midfielder, and that my job is not to score all the goals,” Toure said.

“My job is to try to keep the team playing well, make a good pass, and if I am fortunate enough to score, that is fantastic. But I have to control the team, try to balance the team.

“Last season was quite open for me. I played in a good position and I was quite lucky, I was getting free-kicks. Now the criticism has started coming because I am not scoring. For me, not scoring is pretty normal because I play in midfield.

“It’s amazing to score my first goal. But people have to understand I am not a machine — I am a man.”

Rumours of a January switch to Paris St Germain persist, although City manager Manuel Pellegrini insisted there are “no problems” between Toure and the club.

With Monaco and Barcelona on his CV as well as City, the Ivorian is pragmatic enough to know that being the subject of scrutiny, whether positive or negative, is somewhat inevitable.

“I have been playing for big sides in Europe for a long time,” Toure added. “I know there is criticism, but for me, it doesn’t matter.

“If they want they can continue, it doesn’t matter. For me, the most important thing at the end of the day is if we win the Premier League or something else.”

A combination of steadfast defending from the hosts, and City’s inability to strike their attempts on goal anywhere other than straight at Villa goalkeeper Brad Guzan, resulted in a goalless 82 minutes before Toure struck.

The 31-year-old received the ball from Fernando and with Villa defenders Alan Hutton and Philippe Senderos in retreat, curled his shot home from 20 yards.

It was the decisive moment, and Sergio Aguero ensured there would be no late drama six minutes later when he accepted a pass from James Milner and struck a powerful shot past Guzan.

For Villa manager Paul Lambert, the match represented the end of a testing period of games against all of last season’s top four, from which they yielded three points courtesy of a win over Liverpool at Anfield.

“You are playing against teams worth hundreds of millions,” Lambert said.

“As long as you compete with them, that’s all you can ever ask. We gave a really good account of ourselves. Maybe I need Einstein in here to tell me to do something different!”

Villa were also boosted by the return of Belgium striker Christian Benteke after six months out with a ruptured Achilles. Lambert, though, has urged patience.

“Christian’s only been training with us three or four weeks now, so it’s still a big ask for him to come on and change games at the moment,” Lambert said.

“The good thing is he is back playing football after a horrific injury. He gave everybody a lift when he came on. Once he’s back to full fitness and raring and ready to go, we can judge him. Just to see him back is a bonus.”

ASTON VILLA (4-3-3): Guzan 6; Hutton 5, Senderos 5, Baker 4, Cissokho 6; Cleverley 6, Westwood 7, Delph 7; N’Zogbia 7 (Bacuna 71; 5), Weimann 5 (Benteke 61; 6), Richardson 7 (Grealish 71; 6) .

MANCHESTER CITY (4-1-3-2): Hart 7; Zabaleta 5, Kompany 7, Mangala 6, Kolarov 7; Fernandinho 6 (Lampard 56; 7) Milner 7, Toure 8, Silva 7 (Navas 84; 6); Dzeko 5 (Fernando 64; 6), Aguero 8.

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