David Silva’s slow-motion grace proves far too much for Manchester United | Barney Ronay

In midfield or as an oddball centre-forward, Manchester City’s key man was brilliant in a win that could be decisive for his team’s title aspirations

With half an hour to go in this taut, thrilling, at times spiky Manchester derby, David Silva could be seen chugging around at the point of the Manchester City attack, not so much pressing the red-shirted defenders as rumbling between them with a stately kind of grandeur, like a royal frigate in shallow waters.

With Gabriel Jesus off and City leading 2-1 it was Silva, the most false of false No9s, who found himself shunted into that forward role. He has cut a more rotund, slightly more ponderous figure in the last year and a half, but remains a beautifully pure footballer. Here Silva was not only the slowest, least athletic, least physically imposing footballer on either team – he was also the best player on the pitch, so unhurried, so aware of the shifting planes and currents around him that at times he resembled a colts coach mixing in with the under-12s in training, able to peer above the heads, direct the play, call the next pass two steps ahead.

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