David Silva is shining in Manchester
Rare is the footballer in Manchester who is publicly admired by fans of both teams. City supporters may privately admit that some of United's players are outstanding performers, but publicly they love to hate anything red and holler rude ditties about Ryan Giggs and Sir Alex Ferguson, songs which are not fit for publication.
United fans have habitually sneered and mocked City supporters for their worship of players like Georgi Kinkladze and Ali Berbarbia. They shone in City's smaller pond, but seldom among the biggest fish of world football.
Paul Scholes is one player who City fans concede is a "alright for a rag" - that's "red arrogant git" in City-vernacular - but most Blues would rather not be cornered to talk about their favourite United player.
United fans have watched with unease as City have purchased players from football's top table in recent years. Reds know that Carlos Tevez is deeply effective wherever he plays, but that does not mean they have to like him.
However, one player largely respected in M16 is David Silva. Plenty of United fans wondered why Silva went to City and not Old Trafford in the summer of 2010. Sir Alex Ferguson was an admirer and United several times had watched Silva shine just behind Valencia's leading light, David Villa. They also knew that the near-bankrupt Spanish club would be willing sellers.
Red fears at Silva's ability to set up goals and see space hitherto unnoticed by those around him were confirmed as he settled immediately in England and played more games in his first season than any other City player.
When Gary Neville, a figure so loathed by City fans that many cancelled their satellite television subscriptions upon hearing he would be an analyst this season, recently described Silva as "one of the best players in the league", jaws dropped among Blues.
Neville's assessment was accurate and he is not the only former United player noted for seeing things through red-tinted spectacles who admires Silva.
"Silva is Manchester City's best player by far," said Paddy Crerand, the former United midfielder and 1968 European Cup winner. "He creates, he scores and is blessed with great movement and imagination. I see Silva as a player who is a threat whenever he's on the field because his football brain is so quick.
"He reminds me a little bit of Paul Scholes because of it. It allows him to create space for himself and others. He's a threat, but I hope he isn't too much of a threat against United."
Crerand played 397 times for Manchester United between 1963-71. The former Scottish international played during a period when City also boasted great sides and won several trophies. In 1968, City won the league as United became the first English team to lift the European Cup.
"It's good for Manchester that both sides are doing well again," Crerand said. "I obviously favour United, but I've got friends I see most days who are lifelong City fans.
"They are delighted with what's happening at their club, and they are delighted with one player more than any other: David Silva."
The 49-cap Spanish international had more shots on goal than any City player apart from Tevez last season.
His few critics would say he is wispy and lightweight, but the diminutive playmaker also made more league assists than any other City player.
Having been accused of being overly defensive and negative in 2010/11, City have adopted a more attacking style this term which has seen seven goals in their two league games. The Canary Islander, 25, appears to be the main beneficiary of the fresh attacking dynamic and his early form has been outstanding; he was named man of the match against Bolton Wanderers last week.
The new Chelsea signing Juan Mata, a former teammate of Silva at Valencia, will hope to make an impact in England similar to that of City's playmaker.
Would not any new arrival to the Premier League?
Published: August 28, 2011 04:00 AM