Walking down the Etihad Stadium tunnel for one final time, Sergio Aguero left behind a legacy with Manchester City on par with some of the Premier League greats. A man who played with flair and attacked with energy, every shot the diminutive striker took was a piece of history waiting to happen. From his first goal to his last, and the other 258 in between, no player has ever made an impact at one club like the Argentine.
An Ode to Manchester City and Premier League Icon Sergio Aguero
A Match Made in Heaven
For the Manchester City faithful, it was love at first sight. Replacing Nigel De Jong on the hour mark in the Blues’ opening match of the 2011/12 campaign, it took Sergio Aguero less than ten minutes to score his first of an eventual 184 Premier League goals. A finish now synonymous with the ex-Atletico Madrid player, the then 23-year-old drifted away from the Swansea City full-back before arriving at the back-post to tap into an empty net.
Not content with just the one, Aguero capped off a stellar City debut with a thunderous strike from 25 yards out, finishing his maiden appearance with two goals and an assist. For Swansea, who were playing their first-ever Premier League fixture, it was a rude awakening and the worst possible start. Yet, as the weeks, months and years progressed, defenders from clubs across the division and beyond would go onto suffer a similar devastating fate.
Netting eight goals from his first eight matches, including the third of six in City’s thrashing away to neighbours Manchester United in late October, Roberto Mancini’s side romped to the top of the table and were five points clear heading into December. Yet, with the points beginning to shrink, the wins starting to dry up and Aguero’s eye for goal disappearing, City’s title hopes had rapidly faded away. From five clear to eight behind at Easter, the title was United’s to lose.
Everybody is well accustomed to the events which followed. A storyline so farfetched it wouldn’t even have been considered for a Hollywood movie, yet a moment that is so entrenched in the psyche of all football supporters it has since become a synonym for ‘iconic’. Whilst we all know how it ends now, what is largely forgotten from the bedlam of City’s final day fixture against Queens Park Rangers in 2021, is Aguero’s relatively poor performance.
The striker was characteristically lively but had struggled throughout the match. Passing up a number of golden chances in key periods of the game, none more so than an effort from four yards out shot straight at QPR goalkeeper, Paddy Kenny, there was every chance that Mancini could’ve pulled Sergio Aguero off when Mario Balotelli was introduced midway through the second half. Instead, the City boss persisted and replaced fellow Argentinian international, Carlos Tevez. Needless to say, the history books have vindicated that decision.
Of the 11 City players on the pitch in the 93rd minute, it had to be Aguero. Skipping past ex-City defender Nedum Onhouha, before rifling the ball into the besieged QPR goal, a legend had emerged from the ruins and had taken his first stride to immortality. Following the last day drama, imagining a world where Aguero would exceed this moment was impossible. Yet nine years after his league clinching goal against QPR, City’s all-time record goalscorer leaves Manchester with a trophy cabinet littered with both individual and team honours.
Sergio Aguero and Guardiola: An Irresistable Duo
The 2011/12 title was the first of five for Aguero, who added a further ten domestic trophies and the 2014/15 Golden Boot across his ten-season stay in Manchester. Playing a major part in almost all of City’s successes, the now 32-year-old is one of a select number of players that have moulded the club into the behemoth of English football it is today.
An ever-present in the Blues’ attack, a Manchester City without Sergio Aguero is a seemingly unimaginable concept. However, when it was announced that Pep Guardiola would replace Manuel Pellegrini in 2016, concerns were raised over whether or not the bullish playing style of the Argentine would match the graceful elegance of the Catalan’s footballing philosophy. Aguero didn’t just thrive under Pep Guardiola, the two fell in love.
Crying into the Sky Sports cameras following his last Premier League appearance against Everton, Guardiola was visibly moved at the thought of Aguero leaving the club. Describing the striker as a “special person”, Guardiola displayed a side never seen before. A man who is rarely without a word to say, the City boss was overcome by emotion when discussing the impact Aguero has had.
Since the Catalan arrived in East Manchester, Aguero has netted an emphatic 124 goals in 181 matches – the highest tally under any of his previous coaches. Granted, Aguero’s game did have to evolve under Guardiola’s management, with an increase in defensive responsibilities required in such a high-pressing system. But it’s also fair to say Guardiola has adapted to suit Aguero’s style too, with the ex-Barcelona and Bayern Munich manager having a typically troublesome relationship with traditional centre-forwards in the past.
Of the ten players to score the most goals under Guardiola, Robert Lewandowski is the only other recognised striker on the list, with Lionel Messi the one man to have netted more times than Aguero.
It is also under the tutelage of Guardiola when Aguero eventually broke the all-time record for the most City goals. Collecting the ball midway into the Napoli half and slotting past Pepe Reina, Aguero’s winner in the Blues’ 2017 victory away in Naples was the goal that made him the outright top goal scorer for the club. His then 178th for the club placed him one above Eric Brook at the top of the table.
The Missing Piece
Perhaps the only disappointment from Aguero’s time as a City player was his wretched record with injuries. Whilst in Manchester, only twice has the striker gone a full campaign without facing a significant stint on the sidelines, making his prolific goalscoring exploits all the more impressive.
Leaving the Premier League as its fourth joint top scorer, his final two goals as a substitute against Everton took him one clear of Wayne Rooney as the player to score the most goals for a singular club in the division.
Of course, the curtain hasn’t completely fallen on Aguero’s time as a City player, with his last dance expected to come against Chelsea in the Champions League final. A goal scorer at the Estadio do Dragao in his only appearance there as a City player in 2012, the talismanic trailblazer will be eager to bow out on the highest of highs.
However, regardless of the result in the Champions League final, the legacy of this Premier League great will live on past his stay in England. Where Blues fans of old grew up memorialising the talents of Colin Bell, Francis Lee and Mike Summerbee, the tales of a plucky Argentinian who arrived in East Manchester as a boy and left a legend will be told by generations of City supporters for decades to come.
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