Sunday 25 February 2018

Aguero happy to be in shadow of 'El Diego'

Manchester City 3 , Wigan Athletic 0, Mark Ogden

Sergio Aguero clearly enjoys accepting a challenge and meeting it with the full force of his supreme self-belief, even to the extent of inviting comparisons with Diego Maradona. A hat-trick for Manchester City against Wigan Athletic -- breathtaking as it was -- might fall short of lifting a World Cup and inspiring a previously unheralded club to glory, but Aguero knows precisely where he wants to be heading with Roberto Mancini's team.

Having already chosen to marry Giannina, the daughter of the Argentine icon Maradona, Aguero obviously holds no fear of association with football's most controversial and talismanic figure.

Yet with City matching champions Manchester United stride for stride at the top of the Premier League and Maradona's former club, Napoli, due at Eastlands on Wednesday for City's Champions League debut, Aguero's ambition to emulate his father-in-law is no longer a fanciful day-dream.

During a six-year spell at Napoli, a perennially underachieving club from Italy's derided Mezzogiorno, Maradona's brilliance delivered two league titles, a Coppa Italia, a Uefa Cup and, crucially, respect to a club that had been mocked for decades by the powerhouses of Turin and Milan.

Replicating Maradona's Neapolitan success at City carries obvious symbolism for Aguero, but the team's start to the season, driven by the mercurial attacking play of Aguero, Samir Nasri and the outstanding David Silva, suggests City and Napoli might soon have more in common than their sky blue shirts. So can Aguero do for City what Maradona did for Napoli?

"Yes, I hope so," Aguero said. "I'm coming here to help the team develop and win titles and, if we can do that this year, it will be perfect.

"Unfortunately, I don't think Maradona will be able to make the Napoli game on Wednesday because he's in Dubai training his team (Al Wasl) and the league is starting down there. But if he comes, for sure, he'll support me and Manchester City because I'm his son-in-law, part of the family, so he'll support me for sure."

Cradling a match-ball signed by his City team-mates -- "Don't need to speak English to score goals," scrawled Gael Clichy -- following his first hat-trick in English football, Aguero can look forward to more if the understanding with Nasri and Silva blossoms further.

Carlos Tevez -- starting his first game since failing in his attempt to leave City -- was last season's hero, but the Argentine was on a wavelength some levels below Aguero, Nasri and Silva.

If City are to achieve anything this season, it will be through the efforts of those three, rather than Tevez, whose below-par performance was typified by a first-half penalty which was saved by Ali Al Habsi. Silva, meanwhile, played a central role in all of Aguero's goals.

Meanwhile, Garry Cook, who resigned as City's chief executive on Friday after revelations an email had been sent from his account belittling the cancer suffered by the mother of club defender Nedum Onuoha, has apologised to her. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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