The curious likeability of Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero


Watching a compilation of Sergio Aguero’s goals during his time at Manchester City, you quickly realise just how many of them you’ve forgotten.  Like any great forward, the Argentine’s production is so reliable and so continuous, that over time his best moments have merged together.

There are the more famous goals, of course, but what’s striking is just how many times he’s converted an apparent half-chance with dismissive ease and how, through regularity, that sort of goal is now barely worth mentioning.

Aguero is one of the most gifted footballers in the Premier League, but he’s also a remarkably efficient one.  Old, out-of-date stereotypes dictate that South American footballers are expected to play with flair and extravagance and to, at every possible opportunity, demonstrate their technical superiority.

Aguero doesn’t play like that, even though he almost certainly could.

Instead, he’s more of a cerebral forward.  The more familiar with him you become, the more you appreciate his reliance on his intelligence.  While goal-scoring instinct is erroneously accepted an intangible quality, Aguero’s ability to put the ball in the net actually seems to be methodically honed.  He exploits his pace, his skill and his ability to keep a defender continuously off-balance, but at times he employs an almost mathematical approach to scoring, always appreciating the angles, always exploiting the gaps.

His diminutive size belies a player of great power and, because he strikes a football so purely, he’s equally capable of scoring with ferocity as he is with precision, but there’s still a distinctively scientific quality to his play.

How regularly does he score in the side-netting?  How often does he find those out-of-reach inches on the goalline?

Regularly enough for it just to be expected.

The other interesting detail is in the public’s reaction to him.  Manchester City supporters adore him - of course - but there’s a general benevolence towards him from the community as a whole.  That’s very rare.  Think of all the great goal-scorers in recent years and you will build a list of some of the most disliked players in recent history.  That’s entirely natural; those are players who have coldly put the knife into most of our sides game-after-game, so where there is goal-scoring success there is usually growing resentment.

Very few avoid that.  For every Thierry Henry, whose greatness probably transcended all but the strongest tribalism, there are many more Wayne Rooneys, Ian Wrights, and Robbie Fowlers, who - occasionally in combination with personality traits - were loathed for their ruthlessness.

Interestingly, Aguero isn’t.  Maybe affection for him at Old Trafford is fairly limited, but up and down the rest of the country he just seems to be admired.  When he scores goals - as he did yesterday at White Hart Lane - he doesn’t provoke as much barracking as he probably should, rather the inspired reaction is generally just a shrug of the shoulders and an acceptance that he’s just a bit too good.

Call that what you like - maybe a grudging respect - but it’s refreshing.  Football continuously bubbles with animosity and to watch an opposition player who doesn’t evoke partisan anger is really a novelty.

He’s a welcome dichotomy; on the one hand he’s lethal, ruthless and cold-blooded, but on the other his talent is so obvious that he’s almost universally liked.

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