A dish fit for a king

Posted by Simon Curtis

Graham Stuart/AFP/Getty ImagesDavid Silva has rediscovered his verve in midfield for Man City to devastating effect, the straw that stirs the Sky Blues' drink.

King of the Kippax was the nickname given to Colin Bell, so named for his peerless displays of stamina, skill and selflessness in the great Man City side that eventually won the title at St James's Park one unforgettable afternoon in 1968.

Until last season, nobody in the famous sky blue of City had emulated that feat. Now the deed has been done; thanks partly to a heroic win in Newcastle last May, the mantle of champions sits snug on the broad shoulders of the young men in blue. However, up to now, it has also sat heavily on those young shoulders in 2012. It is a big deal. A very big deal. For opponents, for the press, for the supporters. Everyone likes to take it out on the best team in the land.

The Kippax may have disappeared, buckled under the wrecking balls and dynamite sticks, but St James's Park remains a bastion of proper football support and so too do midfielders in sky blue, who do the good name of Colin Bell and his lofty team-mates justice in this age of easy fame and flexible morals.

On Saturday, one in particular really excelled himself.

City were absolutely superb for the middle part of this game, untouchable in the midfield engine room where David Silva produced a complete master class of flicks, shimmies and passes that nobody else on Planet Football, bar perhaps one or two other pocket maestros in Barcelona and Madrid, can see.

As Roberto Mancini once suggested, "Silva sees passes where the rest of us just see a forest of legs". Here amongst the scything tackles from Danny Simpson and James Perch, Mike Williamson (when he could get close enough) and Cheikh Tiote, the little Spaniard skipped and frollicked through the lot, resurrecting the much-loved Manchester Chicken Tikka Taka in all its brutal, tasty finery.

Newcastle had started well but City eased themselves into the game like an Aston Martin going through the gears. Yaya Toure was in charge of the turbo booster, Silva served as the deluxe pathfinder, the stirring grip was offered by Pablo Zabaleta and Kolo Touré, power and punch came from Javi Garcia and Matija Nastasic plus the non-stop spinning wheels upfront of Carlos Tevez and Sergio Aguero. The engine purred, the finish was sleek, the shine of the bodywork quite dazzling at times. The machine is beginning to find its groove again, after a season of pit stops and flat tyres.

After the second half onslaught against Manchester United, there were again signs here that the Power and The Glory are returning to City's play. The swagger, the accuracy, the deftness of touch and the swiftness of interchange were all quite breathtaking in the half-hour leading up to the break, where three or more goals could have been added to the two that went in. Tevez alone found himself with the next goal at his toe ends on five or six separate occasions but somehow remained with nothing to show from an afternoon's worth of grit and guile.

If ever a match turned itself willingly into an advert for Aguero-Tevez-Silva-Yaya-Samir Nasri in tandem, this was it. A blur of little legs scrambled Newcastle minds with one giraffe-like presence in the middle of it all. Yaya Toure is immense in this kind of mood, a road block and a sledgehammer, a violin concerto and a set of drums all rolled into one giant motoring megalith. Once again, City stand on the brink of an enforced divorce from Yaya for the second time in two years and the prospect does not warm the heart.

He was joined in midfield honours by David Silva, amazingly booed by the home fans for being clattered by the hapless Simpson or perhaps for being the biggest thorn in their side. What the little man from Tenerife did deserve was prolonged, heartfelt applause as he wove patterns that cut Newcastle's defence to shreds. So slight that a good North East gale might threaten to blow him away, Silva can take a tackle too. An obvious target for thuggish attention, he rides tackles as if he has wings and when clattered, he doesn't hang around for the attention of cameras, medics and referees. Before you know it, the little metronome is up and slicing another laser pass through the channels.

Those of us brought up on the wondrous sight of Colin Bell directing the '70s City traffic would be quite happy to admit that in this small bundle of Iberian class, a worthy successor to the King of the Kippax has arrived.

Senor Silva, we thank you and treasure you.

ESPN Conversations