Drink it in.
Manchester City are FA Cup winners. In fact, they’re Premier League champions. Oh, and Carabao Cup winners. Did I mention they won the Community Shield, too?
That’s right. Today, Pep Guardiola’s glorious blues went full throttle into the history books, annihilating Watford by a 6-0 scoreline to win their first FA Cup in eight seasons. Like merciless symmetry, our beloved City confirmed their transformation into the most dominant side in England by lifting the trophy that started this modern era of unprecedented success, adding the FA Cup to their historic domestic treble. You can even make that a quadruple if you like!
Without further ado, here’s how we rated the players as they capped off the best season in our history…
Ederson – 8
Like a bat out of hell, Ederson charged down Roberto Pereyra, positioning himself perfectly to deny Watford a crucial opener when the game was finely balanced in a scrappy first twenty minutes.
As we have come to know with our brilliant Brazilian, his involvements are often fleeting but crucial. When called upon, Ederson is quite often all that stands between limbs in the air and heads in hands. In the FA Cup final, he made himself big, standing up to be counted in arguably the moment of the match.
Kyle Walker – 7
The renaissance continues. After a lacklustre winter period, Kyle Walker is starting to resemble the attacking force that City signed almost two summers ago. On the Wembley grass, Walker banished his anger from the semi-final and kept his cool, largely stewarding Pereyra out of action. A solid performance from a player finding his feet again.
Vincent Kompany – 8
Vinnie at the back at Wembley is a sight to behold. I swear, he probably saw Deeney lining up opposite and played with twice as many ‘cojones’ just to spite him.
Truth be told, Vincent was on his usual defensive game as ever, calling to Ederson so he didn’t injure his teammate with his massive bonce as he headed balls out of the area. But Guardiola’s influence started to shine through the Belgian’s play in the second half particularly, as our captain didn’t only show he could play calmly around the back, but threw in an outside-of-the-foot pass out to the wing for good measure late on.
Is he worth keeping for another season? I’ll run the pen over to the Etihad myself!
Aymeric Laporte – 7
The stage was set for our Eric to smash another header into the net. Away from home, set pieces aplenty. This is where the Frenchman has come into his own this season, scoring vital goals against Wolverhampton, Shaktar, Lyon, Everton and even Brighton last weekened to take City on to their first ever Premier League title defence.
Sadly there wasn’t a goal lying in wait for Laporte at Wembley, as he headed narrowly wide past the Watford post. Yet what was waiting for the Frenchman was a shining trophy worthy of his classy performances throughout the season. He had to step out of his zone a few times to marshall the areas behind Zinchenko, but like the Rolls Royce he is, Aymeric was as smooth, elegant and precise as ever. And yes, that precision does include knowing when to flipping hoof the ball out of danger.
Oleksandr Zinchenko – 7
Oleks, I hope you heard everyone cheering you today. My god, you’re not a left back. But in moments like these, it doesn’t matter. You came to Wembley, watched by blues all over the globe, and gave your all for this club. From a position not your own but in a place that you can call home.
You might have gifted Watford a chance early on but you came back to pepper the box with attacking balls. That’s what champions do – when they get knocked down, they fight on to get the win they deserve. Whatever happens in the future, you are an absolute hero. Let it be remembered that the season Manchester City won the domestic clean sweep, they had a plucky kid from Ukraine playing at left back. I wouldn’t change a thing.
Ilkay Gündogan – 8
Earlier on today, I watched a certain Rodri play in a 2-2 draw for Atletico Madrid against Levante. Sure, the bloke walloped one into the top corner for Diego Simeone’s side, but then I had the good fortune of watching Ilkay Gündogan go to work at Wembley Stadium. It was truly a pleasure.
It’s almost poetic that the player who many (including myself) failed to appreciate in his first few campaigns at City has performed wonders in perhaps the most under-appreciated role on the pitch. He’s no Fernandinho when it comes to snapping tackles in on the break, but Ilkay has lived up to his ‘Silky Ilkay’ nickname in making the defensive midfield role his own in the back end of this historic season.
Finding more acute passes from deep, the German has evolved into our very own ‘regista’, a term the Italians coined for the deep-lying playmaker. It might not have come about in the way we expected but Ilkay has proved to be an invaluable asset as teams have sat further and further back against our intricate passing moves.
Invaluable assets deserve new contracts.
David Silva – 8
Arise, Sir David. After a surprisingly nervous opening 25 minutes, David Silva took both the match and his defender by the scruff of the neck, bullying Kiko Femina off the ball to rise to the occasion when City needed to dig deep. With the ball coming back courtesy of another salmon-like header from Raheem Sterling, El Mago did as El Mago does and put a spell on the Watford goal, bewitching the ball into the back of the net to open the scoring.
Though he slightly faded in the second half (largely due to a certain blonde Belgian taking matters into his own hands) David showed exactly why he has excelled time and time again over his nine seasons in sky blue. Look at his header and goal – his size doesn’t simply matter. His combination of skill, sophistication and desire have redefined this club, and the model of midfielder in this country in the process. Long may he reign.
Bernardo Silva – 9
Bernardo Mota Veiga de Carvalho e Silva. I just wanted to type out his full name so I could savour him a bit longer.
There is no limit to what this man can do with a football. Up to this point in this unbelievable season, one of my only reservations about Bernardo was how he could cope with the creative pressure when playing in central midfield. Well, consider me sat down and shut up. The Portuguese power-pack only went and lofted the perfect ball into Gabriel Jesus for the second goal.
However, Bernardo doesn’t earn a nine out of ten for simply surprising me. No, he earns it for performing above and beyond his duties yet again. When we were under pressure in the first half, Bernardo won the ball back on the right side of the City area. Following that, he charged down a loose ball in the middle of the park as Watford sought to find their composure. A moment later, he’d sprinted over to the left flank to shepard his man into the path of Oleksandr Zinchenko for the ball to go out for a City throw-in.
Follow all that up with a bubblegum run into the box to grab your second assist as we scored our fifth goal? The man defies definition.
Riyad Mahrez – 8
My oh my, what an afternoon to be Watford’s José Holebas. He will probably have better days than when he was asked to mark Riyad Mahrez in the FA Cup Final.
You know when City signed a PFA Player of the Year from Leicester City last summer? Ladies and gentlemen, I think we found him. Not even a full week after sending Brighton’s Shane Duffy to the shops with an outrageous dummy-to-goal to take the game out of sight, the Algerian has come out of his shell and begun to show his skillset in sky blue, not even hesitating to give poor Holebas the time of day.
As many have discovered, the key to a Pep Guardiola team is decison making. We’ve heard Pep repeatedly emphasise the importance of being efficient with the ball, making the right moves, and inflicting the most damage. It’s no secret that Riyad Mahrez has had a difficult first season under his Catalonian manager. City fans were feeling the strain of seeing the Algerian cut in onto his left foot as if by force, bewildered by how to best click with his new teammates. Now though, we are seeing Riyad come up to speed.
Dummy when they least expect it . Pass when the pass is on. Cross when you can find the man. Something tells me next season could be a defiant one.
Raheem Sterling – 8
I’d like to dedicate this player rating to John Aldridge, to The Sun, to The Daily Mail, and everyone and anyone else who has ever doubted Raheem Shaquille Sterling. Because on the 18th of May 2019, a twenty-four-year-old man from Wembley lifted his third trophy in a season inside the stadium that he dreamed of playing at since he grew up in its shadow as a five-year-old boy.
In scoring a brace in front of Pep Guardiola, Gareth Southgate and the flipping Prince of England, Raheem solidified his status as the premier English player in the world right now.
But don’t worry, Pep was straight over after the celebrations to tell Raheem how he could have done better in the first half. Yes, he’s going to get even better. So suck it, haters.
Gabriel Jesus – 8.5
It takes courage to shoulder the pressure of cup final in the place of a club’s record goal-scorer. I can admit that I was among the many City fans who were fairly confused to see Gabriel Jesus start the game that would take us one step further into history.
However, the Brazilian responded to doubt with a defiant performance, taking his chance just when the scrutiny was building and the fingers were beginning to hover over keyboards. There was probably more confusion as to if Gabriel was awarded the second goal than if he should’ve started the game. He’s been awarded it now, but there can be no doubt that he forced a brave save from Heurelho Gomes, assisted the third and then dummied the Watford keeper to score the fourth.
Let’s get one thing straight. Gabriel Jesus will never be Sergio Agüero. But still only twenty-two years of age, there’s nothing to stop him becoming a City legend of his own.
Kevin De Bruyne – 9.5 (Man of the match)
I’m sat here trying to put words to Kevin De Bruyne and they fail me. What can you say for a man who stepped onto the pitch and made a team of Premier League title defenders look… inferior? To think, we played this season, a year when we won the Community Shield, Carabao Cup, Premier League and FA Cup, largely without Kevin De Bruyne. The mind just boggles.
All that can be said is that the Belgian strutted onto the pitch and showed us all what we were missing. It was the pace to burst through lines of defenders. It was the fight to charge back into playing right back. It was the simplicity to find passes that look easy on the eye and impossible to execute.
Need I remind you that City were two goals up when he came on. Kevin wasn’t happy with that. He made sure it was six. The only reason he doesn’t get a maximum rating is because he wasn’t on the pitch that long!
Leroy Sané – 6
There was an unfortunate bit of irony when Leroy came on to try and make his mark. Unlike Kevin, he couldn’t quite find his place, as emphasised when a massive passage of City passing made its way out to the German in a dangerous position, only to see him put it out of play.
If that wasn’t enough, City’s fifth goal came by stinging means as Bernardo Silva dribbled past three men to bypass Sané to then cut a very Sané-esque low cross to the far post for Raheem Sterling to score.
It isn’t necessarily the writing on the wall for Leroy, but it very clearly demonstrates that the German is at a significant crossroads in his career. I sincerely hope he’s still in Manchester next season.
John Stones – N/A
Not quite long enough to earn a rating but it’s a sharp reminder of Pep Guardiola’s influence when John Stones steps on the field and stewards the game out in defensive midfield.
What a laugh, hey lads? Wait, John played in defensive midfield against Crystal Palace at home? Right, let’s never do that again.
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