Two Norwich moments show Man City’s ‘number one’ star for Kompany and Aguero’s farewell – Dominic Farrell

Manchester City’s masterful second-half performance in Saturday’s 4-0 win over Norwich City prompted praise for their most experienced defender.

Raheem Sterling might have won the man of the match award with a hat-trick but, in the Sky Sports studio, Jamie Redknapp marveled at a master of his craft.

“The number one defensive midfielder the league has ever seen,” was the former Liverpool, Tottenham and England man’s emphatic verdict on Fernandinho.

While Twitter users have furiously highlighted the cases of Claude Makelele, Roy Keane and Patrick Vieira, among others, it has emerged that such labels are only applied when it is believed that you are close to being in the same company as this trio. A former player.

Fernandinho will be out of contract and 37 at the end of this season. He now serves as Rodri’s back-up and it stands to reason City will bid farewell to another modern great when the curtain falls on what looks to be another lavishly successful campaign.

As the last of his generation of pre-Guardiola era contemporaries, the Brazilian veteran has every right to regret the fact that he will find it harder than most to leave with a picture book moment.

Sergio Aguero scored in unforgettable style twice in his farewell appearance at the Etihad Stadium last May, with Vincent Kompany firing implausibly home from 30 yards to sink Leicester in a seismic victory in 2019.

Vincent Kompany celebrates his superb goal against Leicester

There was more of a nice pantomime feel when the whole pitch desperately called Yaya Toure for ‘SHOOOOT’ against Brighton in 2018.

David Silva did not come away with a league title and did so in the unsatisfactory conditions of football behind closed doors. But he was still treated to a few final masterclasses and closing in on a free kick or two.

On the other hand, the fate of Fernandinho is that of the spit and the sawdust. It has often been said of Makelele that all of his best work has gone unnoticed, but Pep Guardiola’s footballing vision means that no player is more visible than his sole midfielder.

The man in the position in which he flourished at Barcelona sets the tone and the tempo. Everything goes through them. If things go wrong, you better believe you’ll notice. Many.

Instead of spending a few minutes saying goodbye, if it’s goodbye, Fernandinho will greet us all from top to bottom – in the heat of the moment. City’s midfield warrior wouldn’t want it any other way.

Manchester City’s Fernandinho is challenged by Norwich City’s Kenny McLean

It won’t always be easy to watch. Before half-time, with the game scoreless at Carrow Road, he watched each of his years as Milot Rashica walked away from him. Ruben Dias had to stop the Norwich striker agriculturally and was booked for his troubles.

Fernandinho will have been delighted to bail his team-mates out moments later when he pulled clear after Grant Hanley’s header returned from the post.

City hit the front through Sterling after the half-hour mark and didn’t look back. Phil Foden’s goal early in the second half allowed the team and Fernandinho’s work to progress at a more royal pace.

He completed 71 of his 82 passes, won 75% of his duels and regained possession five times to earn applause from Redknapp and his manager.

“I’ve said many times what an incredible captain he is,” Guardiola said.

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“On and off the pitch, he helps the team a lot. In the dressing room, he is always there to give good advice.

“Of course Rodri is fit now but he can’t play every game. He played today with personality.

Fernandinho is unlikely to retire with a show-stopping moment like some of his former colleagues mentioned above, but the esteem in which he is held by his coach, fans and pundits means the tributes will be just as gushing. When the time comes.

Where do you think Fernandinho ranks among the best defensive midfielders in the Premier League? Follow City Is Ours Editor Dom Farrel on Twitter to join the discussion and let us know what you think in the comments section below.

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