Manchester City’s new role as football’s great entertainers could be the unique selling points and key identifier which delivers not only success on the field but also an opportunity to challenge the global profile of Manchester United, Real Madrid, and Barcelona.
That’s the view of City midfielder Yaya Toure who played his part in Tuesday’s remarkable 5-3 victory over Monaco, a result which is already being nominated by online fans as one of the greatest Champions League ties of all time.
The end-to-end action, total focus on attacking play and relaxed attitude to defensive errors has been a regular facet of City’s style this season but until now it has more often earned them criticism than praise.
Not so this week.
The sheer adrenalin rush of that remarkable victory over Monaco, coming back from 2-1 and 3-2 down, and the thundering atmosphere at the Etihad, convinced even the most wizened old hack to switch from a negative report of Nicolas Otamendi and John Stones’ defending and focus instead on the sheer drama and excitement of the night — and Pep Guardiola’s tactics.
For years, City have been struggling to find an identity in and amongst the big boys of Europe. Being the richest can only take you so far — especially when interlopers at Paris St Germain are already putting that title in question and a string of other billionaires are lining up to enter the market.
Real Madrid already own the Galacticos tag, Barcelona play the beautiful football, United have the glamorous history and all that goes with 1968 and 1999. So is there still space for the kings of all-out attack? A team with a reputation for providing the most full-on adrenalin blast whenever they play, bristling with the attitude ‘we’ll score more goals than you’.
Toure believes there is.
“We are young, we have pace and we have desire and if we play like this then we are going to have more and more fans,” the Ivorian said. “Everybody wants to see these kind of games. It was brilliant.
“From the beginning of the season until now we have always showed we want to attack and score goals, that’s the most important thing. The manager is all about attacking.
“Sometimes when you play this way you can make a mistake but mistakes are part of the game. If you don’t make mistakes then football won’t follow. We try to keep going, we try to be focused and we try to beat our opponent by scoring more goals.”
The big question, of course, is whether City can win trophies this way because that is the only true formula for drawing closer to the giants of world football.
History seems to suggest a more tactical approach is important in semi-finals and finals in the Champions League, and already BBC pundit Chris Waddle has insisted City will never be European champions until they learn how to defend.
Toure, however, has no doubts about the team’s future or their style of play.
“We can win trophies playing this way, definitely,” he said. “We just have to keep going and focus. We are a team that can score goals but can also concede, so we have to score more. We have the strikers to create every team problems — I think we have fantastic players.
“So we have the team we want and we have a desire to win. That’s enough to win trophies.”
What City did show against Monaco, who more than contributed to a remarkable game with their own attacking philosophy, was the kind of never-say-die spirit and character which they don’t often get credit for.
The kind of determination to come back that has won them two Premier League titles without yet seeping into the public consciousness in the same way that defensive errors appear to have done.
“I think that’s because we don’t have the history to show it,” said Toure.
“When you play a team like United people always believe they are coming back because they have a story in that situation. We just have to do our best and keep going and we will build our own story. We want to come close to United as a club and it will happen in the years to come.
“The club has spent a lot of money to get where we are and we want to continue. We have brought in big players and we want big trophies. But also we want to make sure that when people come to watch us they enjoy our football. That’s Manchester City.”
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