SErgio Agüero has scored 181 league goals for Manchester City, but one of them would have been enough to make him a legend. Regardless of what Agüero has done in his career, his hit on the last day of the 2011-12 season, rushing to receive the only assist from Mario Balotelli from the previous season, with glorious inevitability, beating his shot over Paddy Kenny, he would have written his Name in gold letters in the club’s history. However, there was much more to it.
But let’s start with that injury-time goal at the end of his first season at Etihad, a goal that enshrined a new era in English football. Praise the conscience, praise the movement, praise his previous instruction to Balotelli, praise the shot, but most of all praise the calm in that moment, when a season was reduced to a single kick, he never seemed to doubt himself. And this for City, a club that had come to define itself by doubt, a club that had become synonymous with failure, a club for which if it could go wrong, it used to. That game against QPR now stands as the last battle between the old and the new city.
The task should have been simple: beat a team in serious relegation danger, which had lost 13 of its 18 away games that season, to win the title. And yet City for 90 minutes had been doing their best to spoil it, even after Joey Barton was sent off to reduce the QPR to 10 men. He could have been added to the City’s great list of pratfalls: Steve Lomas taking the ball to the corner to protect a draw when they needed a win to stay up, Jamie Pollock’s own goal, David James playing up front, letting in eight. at Middlesbrough, the 2-2 against QPR in 1998 that dragged them into the relegation zone on the second flight … But it wasn’t because Agüero had the wherewithal to hit the ball hard and pass under the hand Kenny’s left.
There is probably no one in the history of the City club fans, at this point, I would rather it had fallen. That was his 30th goal of the season for a club in all competitions, a mark he would equal or exceed four more times in the next seven years. Its consistency is remarkable. Since 2007, Agüero has gone into double digits every season until this (and with two months to go, it is not impossible that he can score the seven more goals he requires). In all but two he has surpassed 20. He has long surpassed Eric Book’s record as the club’s all-time top scorer; If he could somehow find nine more goals over the next two months, he would have improved Book’s mark by more than 50%.
Only Wayne Rooney, Alan Shearer and Andrew Cole have scored more goals in the Premier League, but all had the advantage of having spent all or most of their careers in England; Thierry Henry is the only other foreign player in the top 10. And it’s not just the goals: only in the Premier League era have assists been counted, but Aguero is fourth on that list for City, and Raheem Sterling is within range.
As Richard Jolly pointed out On twitterAguero in his prime had a six-season streak in which he scored 28 goals or more, being the first player to do so in English football since Jimmy Greaves. And there’s more resonance there in the fact that they both found themselves playing for a coach who, if they weren’t looking at goal counts with a sense of suspicion, at least asking their central forwards what else they were bringing.
Pep Guardiola’s conception of football is very different from that of Alf Ramsey, but both prioritize the process over the people, both see the goals as a part of the work of a forward. “Pep is a very demanding coach and adapting to what he wanted was not easy during the first year”, Agüero told the Argentine channel TyC in May 2018, admitting that Guardiola had been “angry” with him at times. “In addition to my responsibilities as a forward, I wanted to get involved as the first defender of the team… I think this season [2017-18] we were on the same page with Pep. He told me that he was happy with my performance and that his anger was worth it because I had a better year ”.
Aguero adapted. His movement changed and he began to lead the press. He had the intelligence and the application to modify his game. Unless he’s always around from now on, this will be his first season at City. in which he has played less than 30 games, but it is an injury and not an ideology that has restricted him. His life in Manchester seems to have been exemplary, dedicated to football and his son (who lives in Argentina with Agüero’s ex-wife, Diego Maradona’s daughter, but previously Covid spent a week a month in Manchester). Not only has there been no indication of scandal, but it hardly seems to come out, which perhaps explains its dedication to the game.
Barring something extraordinary, he will leave City with five league titles (more than any other City player in history), with a host of goalscoring records that may never be challenged and, perhaps most importantly, with a deep sense of goodwill. No player has done so much to change the image of the club.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism