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Africa Sports News of Friday, 1 May 2020


Yaya Toure overlooked individuals awards at Manchester City - Micah Richards

Yaya Toure Yaya Toure

A Manchester City player has never been crowned as the Premier League's PFA Players' Player of the Year, despite the club winning four league titles in the last decade, and former defender Micah Richards believes it's because they are a victims of their own success.

Six of the last 10 PFA award recipients have been from Liverpool, Arsenal and Tottenham, with the current holder a runner-up from last season in Virgil van Dijk.

Yaya Toure was a notable omission in 2014, when he was beaten by Luis Suarez, despite becoming only the second midfielder to score 20 goals in a Premier League season. But Richards thinks some simply expect City to be successful because of the quality in their squad.

“Every time a City player has been up for it, someone's just pipped them but that season Yaya should have won it 100 per cent,” the ex-England international told Goal.

“I don't think people are necessarily being bad to City when they don't pick them, I just feel subconsciously other teams might think they've had all this investment and expect this to happen anyway.

“You could run through the team from Joe Hart, when he was on flames, Vincent Kompany, [Pablo] Zabaleta, Yaya, [David] Silva, [Sergio] Aguero - all of them could have won player of the year. But I think because we have had so much talent in the squad, that people just expect us to be that good.

“Like [Kevin] De Bruyne this season. I do believe it's got to go to a Liverpool player because of how much they are winning the league by. But then City broke the points record and didn't win it, so maybe De Bruyne could win it instead of [Sadio] Mane or [Virgil] Van Dijk.”

Richards spent four seasons playing alongside four-time African Player of the Year Toure at the Etihad Stadium and says his qualities are often underestimated.

Toure's arrival in 2010 from Barcelona prompted some pundits to claim City were wasting a lot of money in big wages and a £24 million ($30m) transfer fee for a defensive midfielder, but he went on to show how he had so much more to his game.

“He was coming from one of the biggest clubs in the world so we were welcoming him to the side,” Richards recalled.

“He'd played in the [2009] Champions League final [win over Manchester United] as a centre-half so we didn't know what exactly he was. But after the first training session I was like: 'Wow'. People just think he's all power and pace but he has the technique of David Silva but could run as fast and as strong as me.

“When he came as a defensive midfielder we already had Nigel de Jong so I didn't know if we needed him to do that role. But he has everything. Silva's probably my all-time favourite City player but Yaya had more strings to his bow.”

Richards remembers how ex-City coach Roberto Mancini used Toure's absence to spur City to their dramatic title success in 2012 when they finished above rivals United on goal difference.

Toure and brother Kolo missed more than a month of the season at the Africa Cup of Nations in January and February with the Ivory Coast, and the Italian sparked a response from the rest of the squad to cover for his loss.

“We knew how important he was to our team because he's a player that as soon as he turns it on, nobody in the world can deal with him. He's a big part of our team, and if he leaves us for a month we could lose some vital games,” Richards added.

“I remember [after a defeat at] Everton when Yaya was away, Mancini nearly caused World War III in our dressing room. He said to us: 'You can't do without Yaya'. The dressing room erupted. I've never seen anything like it before, we all wanted to fight Mancini.

“After we settled down, he said: 'I said that on purpose because I knew I would get that reaction. And how you have reacted now is exactly how I want you to react every single week on the pitch'.

“From that point on I thought we were going to win the league, no matter what obstacles were put in front of us, we were going to win it.”