Micah Richards has watched over half a billion pounds’ worth of signings come through the doors at Manchester City, and the defender believes none of them compare to David Silva.
Sergio Aguero may have scored the two vital goals, but it was Silva who stole the show at Upton Park on Saturday evening as City won 3-1 to claim their first maximum on the road this season.
The Spanish midfielder was a constant menace, picking holes in a bamboozled West Ham defence with his incredible vision and passing.
The performance came as no surprise to Richards, who has marvelled at the magic of the man they call Merlin ever since he arrived at the Etihad Stadium in 2010 following a £26m move from Valencia.
City have spent approximately £600m since Richards signed his first professional deal at the club in 2005.
The likes of Carlos Tevez, Mario Balotelli and Patrick Vieira have come and gone, while superstars like Yaya Toure, Aguero and Samir Nasri remain. Of the talent to arrive, Richards has no doubt that Silva is the best.
“The only way I can stop him in training is if I smash him,” the City full-back said.
“He doesn’t come near me now! We have an agreement – you don’t come near me, I won’t hurt you.
“We call him Merlin. He’s like a little wizard isn’t he? He is class. At West Ham he was just ridiculous. He is the best player I have played with.
“He just makes it look easy, the way he goes past people. He is just amazing.”
Silva’s pinpoint cross allowed Aguero to double City’s lead after the Argentinian had put the visitors ahead and the Spaniard wrapped up the win with 10 minutes left following Ricardo Vaz Te’s overhead kick.
Two hundred miles away, City’s neighbours were licking their wounds after drawing against Southampton at Old Trafford.
Interestingly, Manuel Pellegrini reportedly lied to his team about the United result in an attempt to spur them on to victory in east London.
“I didn’t know United had conceded a late equaliser,” Richards said.
“The manager said they had won, and that Arsenal and Chelsea had won so we thought we had to win against West Ham. Maybe it was a bit of reverse psychology. We just knew we had to win. We couldn’t drop points.”
While the doors at the Etihad keep revolving every summer, welcoming new players and overseeing the exit of others, Richards has remained.
The defender has found first-team opportunities hard to come by of late due to the form of Pablo Zabaleta, but his connection to City is still strong.
He probably, therefore, felt the hurt of last year’s title surrender to Manchester United more than most of his team-mates.
United won the championship by 11 points last season, but under David Moyes they have struggled so far, winning just three of their opening eight games.
Richards is convinced United are not a spent force, but he does concede that the club are missing the wisdom of former manager Sir Alex Ferguson.
“Let’s not kid ourselves, Fergie is probably the best manager ever,” Richards said.
“He’s probably like having a 12th man in your team. Moyes is a great manager. He’s done a similar job at Everton, he didn’t have that much to spend and he kept them consistently playing well.
“It will be hard for them, losing Fergie, but I think in time, Moyes will get it right.”
Sam Allardyce turned 59 on Saturday, but it was a birthday to forget for the Hammers boss.
He hit out at his defenders for allowing City to stroll to victory, and the team that tore Tottenham apart a fortnight ago looked toothless in attack.
Allardyce hopes to have better news on Monday when he calls Belgian physio Lieven Maesschalck to see how record signing Andy Carroll is doing in his recovery from the Achilles heel injury that has kept him out all season.
“Andy is still in Belgium and he’s improving week by week,” the West Ham manager said.
“I will speak with the specialist and hopefully he will be able to give us a date when he thinks he can come back to us.
“It is very important we get him back as quick as we can. I don’t want to continue not playing with frontmen in games where we need one.”