Dodgy Tackle: Car-less Yaya Toure put in a difficult position
IT has been a strange old time at Manchester City over the last few months.
Pep Guardiola swept into the Etihad Stadium during the summer and wasted no time getting his trainer/ shoe hybrid-clad feet under the table.
Out went Joe Hart to be replaced by Claudio Bravo, a miniature full-back who has a broad passing range but steadfastly refuses to even try and save a shot and needs a footy to touch the crossbar.
Out went £50m to Everton in exchange for John Stones, who defends as if he is the oldest of the Rolling Stones. Out also went the footballing textbook, as Pep came up with ingenious ways to confuse highly-paid players and out-of-pocket supporters in equal measure.
Pablo Zabaleta, who thought he would be facing a battle to hold onto the right-back slot ahead of Bacary Sagna and wee Bravo, was ushered into a weird midfield role.
Alexander Kolarov has been used at centre-back, even though he has never shown any indication that he wants to, or knows how to, defend.
Kevin de Bruyne, Jesus Navas and Leroy Sane, each of them flat-out attacking players, have done a turn at wing-back, while Sergio Aguero, one of the best centre-forwards on the planet, was sent for a long stand in the dug-out, and then took his frustrations out on David Luiz’s knee.
Yet one player who hadn’t planned on taking up any position other than that of ‘laid back, feet up on his expensive coffee table’ was Yaya Toure.
Banished from the first team picture by Guardiola at the start of the season, Yaya was apparently looking forward to taking another season off, having hardly lifted a finger last term as Manuel Pellegrini’s reign came to a drawn out conclusion.
And Toure had little cause for concern when Pep decided a couple of months ago that he could do with another midfielder. Why would he? But, after failed attempts to bring Hart back from his loan spell at Torino to sit in front of the back four, Yaya’s plans took a turn for the worse as he got a summons to report for duty.
A search party was quickly assembled to find the keys to Yaya’s Rolls Royce, presumably bought from brother Kolo’s alter ego, and off he went to training from his palatial London home.
Two goals at Crystal Palace later, Yaya felt happy enough to attend a party at a friend’s house, and as a devout Muslim and therefore a non-drinker, and with his car keys located, he volunteered to be the designated driver.
Unfortunately, it turns out that the big punch bowl from which he drank all night contained more than just Diet Coke, and when Toure was doing his taxi driver bit at the end of the evening, the Old Bill flagged him in and the test was duly failed.
The Ivory Coast international was in court this week, where he probably thought his guilty plea and the identity of the presiding judge would lead to a little leniency. However, despite himself living the high life when he starred in the documentary Footballers’ Wives, District Judge Gary Lucie came down hard on the former Barca centre-back (guess who played him there), fining him a means-related £54,000, which doesn’t even take into account the cash he’ll have to slip to Kolo to drive him to work from London every morning.
“It appears to me that whilst you may not have knowingly consumed alcohol it should have been clear to you that you were in fact drinking alcohol at some point before you took the decision to drive,” said Lucie.
City refused to comment, other than to say it was a personal matter, although rumours abound that as a punishment he will be asked to play in goal against Arsenal tomorrow.
He can touch the crossbar after all, which makes him a better bet than Bravo.