Six starts by Christmas is not a lot in football. Not a lot, perhaps, when you consider a man on the verge of a transfer to Stoke City in the summer, Fabian Delph, has amounted double that.
While Delph has been able to resurrect his City career under Guardiola so far this season, forgotten man Bernardo Silva’s fortunes have stalled.
With another lacklustre performance from Silva in Europe, it seems time may be running out for both club and country.
Silva has found opportunities few and far between without garnering all that much attention from either City fans or the media. The 23-year-old Portuguese playmaker, bought for £43.6m back in May, had previously only completed 90 minutes once this season, the 3-0 dismantling of Burnley back in October.
It perhaps seems a little odd that more has not been made of his less than accomplished start to life at the Etihad.
The return of the Champions League saw Manchester City, already qualified, rest several key players. Silva was offered a rare start and an invaluable chance to prove himself against relatively inferior opposition.
Not having this negativity with Bernardo Silva.He needs time to settle. Sane & Sterling are playing out of their skin. He’s 22 & is seen as a long term replacement to David Silva. Give the lad time for god sake. People love to find flaws after our amazing start but this is a joke— Seph17 (@MCFCBaller) December 5, 2017
To be fair to Silva, playing on the right, there were glimpses of the fluidity and freedom with which he tore Europe apart last season.
Drifting inside and penetrating the defensive midfield with the relative ease that we witnessed last season, the final ball continually proved elusive against a resolute Shakhtar defence.
Another game, another Bernardo Silva no show, but you won't hear a thing about that. We're in December and he's yet to show anything for City. One of the WORST signings of the PL era.— ً (@RooneyEra) December 3, 2017
Although at opposite ends of their careers, Bernardo Silva’s current City career trajectory somewhat echoes that of Nolito’s – who came and left for Sevilla only a season before.
While Silva has the considerable benefit of only being 23, the manner in which Nolito’s bit-part performances rapidly led to him becoming the forgotten man should sound a note of caution to the young playmaker.
It may be the case that Manchester City are simply too good this season to warrant Bernardo Silva in the starting line-up.
Upon his somewhat early arrival in Manchester, it did seem that the main question being asked was: how exactly will Guardiola fit Bernardo Silva, the David Silva, De Bruyne, Sané, Sterling, Aguero, and Jesus all in the starting eleven?
The reality is that he has not done anything to warrant starting in front of any of those and – in a game which saw an ageing Yaya Toure roll back the years and amble through midfield posing a relative threat – a promising performance is just not enough.
At this point in the season, it is all far too early to assume that City are home and dry. Guardiola’s side will most likely hit a run of poor form – or at the very least they might not be quite as scintillating as they have been so far this season, as has been the case in recent weeks.
In this instance, Bernardo Silva will need to rediscover the kind of performance that saw him play an integral role in Monaco’s title victory and European charge – they were the highest scoring side in Europe’s top five divisions.
No one should doubt he has it in him; he just has to step up to the plate the next time Guardiola comes calling.