Lee Bradbury. Gerry Creaney. Rodney Marsh. Jô. Down the years, Manchester City have never wanted for strikers that would get fans discussing their performances in a highly animated fashion down the drinker. With great feeling. At some length. Using fruity linguistic flourishes. Sergio Agüero can be filed alongside these dudes, too, albeit for slightly different reasons. Agüero has been jaw-dropping in a rather more acceptable way, with his 257 goals in 384 matches, and while he’s not quite as loveable or relatable as the equally legendary Shaun Goater, The Fiver will concede that he’s probably, on balance, a little bit better.
But all good things peter out anticlimactically, and on Monday night the muse to Martin Tyler’s signature moment calmly announced his intention to quietly take his leave of City at the end of this supporter-free season. “When a cycle comes to an end, many sensations arise,” began a statement which in an ideal world would have been set to the soothing sounds of the pan pipes. Agüero went on to speak of his “indestructible bond with all those who love this club, people who will always be in my heart” and promised to “give it my utmost for the rest of the season”, which, given his knack problems, will probably consist mainly of sitting in the stands looking on aghast as City somehow conjure up yet another absurd way to crash out of Big Cup while hot favourites.
But even if European glory once again evades City, they’re going to win the league, aren’t they, and so Agüero ends his 10-year stay having landed five titles, an FA Cup and 287 Milk Cups. That’s not bad going, especially when you throw in the most dramatic winner of all, one that sent Fergie into a flat spin and knocked Michael Thomas into a c0cked hat. He leaves in search of “a new stage with new challenges”, and unlike the aforementioned Bradbury, Creaney, Marsh and Po’ Jô, bodyswerves a notorious graveyard for strikers with reputation very much intact. No pressure on his mooted replacement Erling Braut Haaland, then, given that at City, this job usually goes one of two very distinct ways.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“It was horrible! I apologise to all the mothers who saw their children get the same haircut … but the journalists saw [it] and forgot about the [knack]” – the Real Ronaldo reckons his unique World Cup 2002 hairdo, which looked like a massive forehead-bothering monobrow, ended up being a handy diversionary prop in press conferences.
David Squires counts your flags and conjures some lifelong England memories.
It’s only Football Weekly: your questions answered.
“First, it was pre-empting Spurs’ Big Vase travails, then the lauding of O’Ireland before their meeting with Luxembourg – maybe it’s time to pen a piece on Steve Bruce’s longevity at St James’ Park? You’d never have to buy your own Tin in Newcastle ever again when the inevitable comes to pass” – Jim Hearson.
“News that UK culture secretary, Oliver Dowden, is hopeful that crowds of more than 10,000 may be able to attend some matches at Euro Not 2020 has doubtlessly been greeted with envy in Dublin. The FAI won’t be expecting crowds that big until at least the World Cup 2026 qualifiers” – Justin Kavanagh.
NEWS, BITS AND BOBS
Rebecca Welch is the first woman appointed to referee a Football League game. “I’ve got no doubt, in the next 10 to 15 years, we will see a female referee in the Premier League,” she peeped before Harrogate Town v Port Vale on Monday.
Republic O’Ireland boss Stephen Kenny has expressed dismay at the sorry state of human rights in Qatar before his side’s friendly against the 2022 hosts. “It’s not acceptable for so many people to lose their lives,” he said. “You can’t sweep that under the carpet, it can’t be ignored.”
Poland expect their 1-1 World Cup qualifying draw with England at Wembley to go ahead despite the number of positive Covid cases in Paolo Sousa’s squad rising to four.
Both legs of Chelsea’s Big Cup quarter-final win on away goals over Porto will be played in Seville because of Covid.
Mo Salah reckons memories of being shoulder-slammed out of the 2018 Big Cup final by Sergio Ramos will give him more pep in his step when Liverpool face Real Madrid next week. “Let’s just say that I have special motivation to win the tie,” he blabbed to Madrid’s in-house magazine Marca.
Shortbread McFiver’s hopes of a Scotland debut have been given a boost after Steve Clarke admitted he is feeling frisky enough to give someone else a go in goal against the Faroe Islands. “I can use the depth of the squad if I feel it is the right thing to do,” he teased. “I know what my team is, I have it written down and it is in my pocket.”
And Mongolia are nursing their wounds after a 14-0 shoeing in HR World Cup qualifying.
STILL WANT MORE?
“I felt degraded”: Ram Marwa on being racially abused as a young footballer.
Beleaguered O’Ireland boss Stephen Kenny needs to be cut some slack and given more time, reckons Paul Doyle.
Floating football brain in a jar Jonathan Wilson dissects the meaning of Sergio Agüero and his symbolic importance to City.
David Hytner gets his chat on with new Poland manager Paulo Sousa about interacting with his team on Zoom, Bob Lewandowski and the greats he played with.
Which Premier League clubs have the hardest and easiest run-ins? Ben McAleer takes a butcher’s.
Could a Norway boycott of the Human Rights World Cup in 2022 change the future of football, wonders Håvard Melnæs.
Caitlin Murray on the fallout from the failure of the USA! USA!! USA!!! men’s team to qualify for Big Sports Day in Tokyo.
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