Bernardo Silva was one of the Premier League’s best players last season. His transformation as a player was hailed by many. The Portuguese acquired completeness in his style of play, as he went about not just scoring but also doing a lot of dirty. But he is one of the key reasons for Man City are nowhere close to winning the Premier League this season, despite starting the season as favourites according to bettingsites.ng, the leading Nigerian bookmaker.
Last season, he racked up seven goals and seven assists in the Premier League. This season, his goals and assists tally stand at five each. While that is less, he could easily reach that same point as last season when the campaign ends. But it isn’t the goals that City have been lacking.
The overrunning of the midfield has been a constant problem for Pep Guardiola’s men this season. They do still score a lot of goals, but they get exposed on the break against quick attacks. It was evident against Manchester United, Wolves and Tottenham. Playing Fernandinho deeper and having Aymeric Laporte out has been a reason. But Bernardo’s numbers in terms of winning the ball back have reduced.
Last season, Bernardo’s recoveries stood at 5.17 per 90 minutes. He would constantly hussle and harry the opposition to create an intense press from that flank or wherever he played. It made sure that the ball didn’t go past the City midfield as often and made the team reliable out of possession.
This season, the recoveries stand at 5.58- higher than last season. But it isn’t about just that. Bernardo has won 1.50 tackles per 90 minutes this season so far. This stood at 1.64 last season. And more so, he had an accuracy of 75 percent. It was the best of his career, including Monaco and Benfica.
Last season, he had was ruthless in running and covering a big amount of distance. This hasn’t exactly been a full reflection of him having those sort of qualities. In possession, he has completed 2.2 dribbles per 90 minutes and that is much higher than last season. The chances created are very much the same too. He has won 40 percent of his aerial duels when it stood at a little over 20 percent last season.
Not just that, but his dribbling accuracy has come up from 55 percent last season to around 70 percent this term. Even in that regard, he has improved. Attacking wise, his true abilities are coming to the fore as Guardiola has often been playing a more transition-oriented style than a possession-based system. That helped City beat Real Madrid in the Champions League and allowed them to beat United in the first leg of the Carabao Cup semi-final.
That has been working to Bernardo’s strengths. he is getting on the ball in situations where he can use his dribbling than just possession.
It is anyone’s guess if City could have been closer to the title-race if Bernardo’s tackling was better. Their problems do lie elsewhere too. But it has been a generation observation this season that their press isn’t as intense as it used to be. This could be because of some staleness amongst players. But Bernardo isn’t exactly that tackling machine and it is costing City in some regard.