They say all geniuses are mad in some way. Occasionally, the actions of Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola will back up that assertion. His team plays beautiful, relentless attacking football – a joy for all football fans to behold. But through it all there is a degree of manic obsession visible in Guardiola as he stalks the touchline, gesticulating wildly, eyes wide and bright, occasionally grabbing his own, or indeed opposition, players roughly for some intense one-to-one coaching.
This wildness of character underneath the genius rubs off on Guardiola’s players, not least Portuguese international Bernardo Silva. The attacking midfielder is a wizard with the ball, ducking and dancing between opposing defenders with considerable flair. But it seems that since his arrival at the Etihad Stadium, Bernardo Silva has added a newfound passion to his game. He plays with nothing held back, eyes bulging as he gets in the faces of opponents or lambasts the referee. The player who was once viewed as merely a silky addition to City’s attack has bared his teeth and claws.
In playing style and attitude, Bernardo Silva perfectly encapsulates what Guardiola brings to the table – the technical brilliance driven by an almost crazed desire to entertain and improve week upon week, to set new records and surpass previous achievements, to create legacies that will live on for many decades. Bernardo Silva provides an intensity that perfectly complements the graceful class of David Silva, the nippy speed of Raheem Sterling, and the clinical goal-scoring prowess of Sergio Agüero. He is a large part of the reason City are seen as a safe pick for those who bet on Premier League Winner with Betfair.
Bernardo Silva has scored some important goals in his two seasons at the club, notching a crucial winner against Chelsea in March 2018, and scoring in the Manchester derby last season, a game which City had to win to maintain their narrow lead over Liverpool in the Premier League title race. These goals have added to individual performances defined by their graft and constant haranguing of defenders. Bernardo Silva is a defender’s nightmare, buzzing around like a wasp at a picnic.
He is not the only player who has displayed a greater intensity under Guardiola. Kevin De Bruyne has added an extra degree of bite to his performances, showing more attitude and passion than perhaps he did before. It could be said that Sterling, too, has added a bit of spice to his game. The reason for this is that for Guardiola and City to achieve such success, all players must buy into his ideas, it’s one hundred per cent or nothing.
The documentary series ‘All or Nothing: Manchester City’ gave us an insight into Guardiola’s workings, into the obsessive nature of his coaching techniques, and a first-hand glimpse of the ambition that drives him. The beauty of City’s football is made possible by the dedication that goes into its perfection on the training ground. In that documentary series we get to see Bernardo Silva’s early days at the club, and see Guardiola’s influence begin to shape him, as it shapes every member of his squad.
Perhaps the only question is whether the high demands Guardiola places on his players technically, physically and mentally will eventually prove too much to maintain. We have already seen City struggle at times so far this season, recently losing 3-2 to promoted Norwich City at Carrow Road. Even if City do suffer something of a burnout, the memories of the last two unforgettable seasons will last a lifetime for supporters. Bernardo Silva, along with the rest of City’s players and fans owe a lot to Guardiola, to his coaching techniques and his singular intensity. The success of this team over the last couple of years is proof that genius and madness can indeed go hand in hand.