The word “legend” is often used to describe football players. Too much, perhaps? However, for David Silva, I think it’s apt. It’s the midfielder’s last Premier League game in a Manchester City shirt this afternoon, against Norwich.
The Spaniard is one of the players from the 2011-2012 squad that won the Premier League title for City, 44 years since the club was last victorious. After today, Sergio Aguero is the only other player who remains. The likes of Joe Hart, Vincent Kompany, Pablo Zabaleta and Yaya Touré have all said their goodbyes over the years.
David Silva joined the club for a £24 million pound transfer fee from Valencia in 2010, then playing under manager Roberto Mancini. Known as “Merlin”, The Magician” or “El Mago” for his prowess on the ball, Silva will be remembered for bringing his Spanish flair to the Premier League. The kind that saw his national team win Euro championships in recent years, as well as the 2010 World Cup. With technical ability and a left foot that’s seen him become a key playmaker for the Blues, who doesn’t shy away from goal himself. Silva is a joy to watch play when on the road or at the Etihad Stadium.
The game there today sees the completion of this year’s Premier League season against visitors Norwich, a club that’s already been confirmed as relegated to the EFL Championship next season. Today’s match is taking place much later than originally scheduled, due to the break in play because of the coronavirus pandemic. That also means there will be no fans in the stadium to bid this season’s captain adiós, in his final game wearing a sky blue shirt.
Which leads me onto the ‘silver lining’: A player’s time at any club will always come to a close and David Silva is ending his on a high. In his 10 years with Manchester City, the number 21 has been a key part of squads who have massively enhanced the team’s trophy cabinet, with four Premier League titles, two FA cups and five League Cups to his name. A role model to many, with Man City’s academy graduate Phil Foden a potential candidate to take on Silva’s position in midfield next season. And there’s still the matter of this year’s Champion’s League to be decided too.
While David Silva’s next move is yet to be announced, there’s no doubt that, domestically, the 34-year-old has done it all and done it in style. He’s left his mark on Manchester City, as well as the top tier of English football. Thanks for the memories, El Mago.
I’ve been out of the house for the first time! Was it for a lovely walk? A delicious take-away meal, perhaps? No, neither of those; I had to visit the emergency dentist. A literally painful reminder that the outside world, as well as the one inside my mouth, is continuing regardless of any precautionary quarantine for Covid-19.
Some context: In January I had a wisdom tooth taken out by the wonderful team at the Westmorland General Hospital in Kendal. When lockdown restrictions came into force, I was grateful to have had the procedure done before it got any more serious.
Flash forward to this week, and the partially erupted wisdom tooth on the opposite side didn’t feel right, followed by a headache and sore throat. Then, in the middle of Monday night, the pain started. Swelling also meant I wasn’t able fully open my jaw. I couldn’t eat solid food or talk properly, without looking like a ventriloquist.
I tried home remedies to ease the pain and swelling and was going to wait to see if it got better. No such luck until my neighbour rang about something completely different. She’s a dentist and, while on the phone, was able to diagnose me. She said I must call the emergency dentist. I was wishing I’d had both bottom wisdom teeth pulled out when I was in hospital, but I’d only recently had an x-ray which showed the tooth was fine. I’d also been for a dental check-up, just before this self-isolation started.
Dental surgeries aren’t yet open for business, understandably, but I was able to contact mine. My dentist prescribed some antibiotics and we met in the surgery car park to pick them up. A surreal socially-distanced situation. The pills were put on a tray, which was placed on the ground to pick up and we kept two metres apart.
I’m still working from home, which has been a godsend with these dental issues, to be honest. This week in May is the third anniversary of the Manchester Arena bombing. I edited an interview with a young woman from Cumbria who was there at the Ariana Grande concert.
Thoughts of the 22 people who were killed and those who were injured are never far from my mind. I’m proud of my Mancunian roots and went to school with Martyn Hett, who was one of the people who died. I wrote more about my thoughts in this blog post at the time. Three years on and the aftermath is that people are living with grief and some of the survivors with with physical or mental health conditions as as well. Even now, it’s hard to comprehend this act of terrorism.
Manchester is a truly fantastic city – it’s the spirit of the people that make it so. The Oasis song Don’t Look Back in Anger was cathartic for many after the attack and still is. I listened to the track again on 22 May and lit my bee candle in honour of the 22. They will never be forgotten and are always in our hearts. #WeAreManchester.
It feels like so much has happened in the month since the suicide bombing at Manchester Arena, so much bad news, so much terror. For every negative emotion though there has also been unity and love.
The explosion was literally close to home. Most people I know have been there to see events. They’re often some of the happiest times of our lives. No doubt, that’s how the people who’d been to see Ariana Grande on 22 May felt too. Until just after 22:30, when the explosion happened and everything changed. That night 22 people never came home and countless lives changed forever.
It’s a tragedy that’s affected people beyond the city’s boundaries. For me personally, four of the victims were from Lancashire and, as news of the atrocity filtered through, it unfolded that I knew one of the people who died in the blast; I’d gone to the same high school as 29-year-old Martyn Hett.
I’m from Stockport originally, the same town as Martyn. It’s six miles away from Manchester and most Stopfordian’s are proud to call themselves Mancunian. Just like the majority of the country and beyond did after the attack. In uniting against evil, showing our empathy and solidarity, we’re all Mancunian because being Manc is about much more than geography. The bee is a symbol of our undying spirit of love, peace and hope.
Even now, I can remember vividly the night of the bomb. I got an inkling from social media, my first thoughts were that surely something of this scale must be a hoax? It was a concert with a young following after all. But terrorism knows no boundaries.
I turned on the radio and as the details began to unfold it just got more and more horrifying as Greater Manchester Police confirmed fatalities. Understandably, there was a sombre feeling that followed. I was one of the breakfast show producers that week at BBC Radio Lancashire and we were reflecting the mood in our programme. It gave me chance to get in touch with my Manchester contacts from home. One thing struck me straight away from speaking to people – resilience. Ours is a city that will never be beaten.
LISTEN: The report I put together for the four Lancashire victims of the Manchester bomb, which aired on BBC Radio Lancashire a week after the attack… (Blog post continues below.)
Of course, there’s grief and the nation mourns together. We must reflect on the evil but we then must counter that by remembering those we have lost and reflecting on the hope there was in the aftermath. Hope came in many forms: Tony Walsh’s ‘Our Place’ poem, the ‘One Love’ concert staged by Ariana Grande and her team or the people who went out to the memorials to water the floral tributes.
What really resonated for me were the outbursts of Oasis’s ‘Don’t look back in anger’, which has rightfully become an anthem of Manchester. My family are all Mancunian and the majority of my education happened in Manchester. I went to sixth form college at Parrs Wood in Didsbury and then studied for my undergrad degree at The University of Manchester, so have spent a lot of time in the city during my formative years. The bee is a great emblem because there is such a buzz. There’s many things I love about Manchester, but most of all, I love how diverse the place is.
If you stand on Market Street in the city centre, for example, you will see all kinds of people all going about their business, the same as anyone else. In my experience, there’s very little discrimination because people are so accepting and friendly. The ripples of acts of terrorism don’t just happen at the time though. It can affect people for years to come, in different ways, if you let it. It may manifest as fear or prejudice, either subliminally or overtly, but that’s what we must reject. It creates a divide and that isn’t what our Mancunian spirit is about. I have tickets to go to a gig at the arena at the end of the year, if it’s open by then. Initially, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go there ever again but that’s not the right attitude to have. Hopefully I can go and have a good time.
There is an unquantifiable sadness – we’ve had vigils for the victims and now the funerals are taking place one by one. I went to the vigil for Martyn Hett in Heaton Moor Park and it was cathartic in ways I hadn’t imagined. To see so many people coming together to celebrate his life was truly heart-warming, after so much heartbreak.
Manchester stands proud of our history, our culture and our people. We always have and always will… And as the lyrics of the song go: “Don’t look back in anger, I heard you say.”