Toure brace puts him back in Pep's plans

Manchester City's Yaya Toure scoring the first of his two goals against Crystal Palace in an English Premier League match which ended 2-1.
Manchester City's Yaya Toure scoring the first of his two goals against Crystal Palace in an English Premier League match which ended 2-1.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • Pep Guardiola can presumably expect a phone call this week from Yaya Toure's agent, the Spaniard's bete noire Dimitri Seluk, demanding his client is handed a pay rise.

After all those much publicised "misunderstandings in the past", for which the player had recently apologised, Toure is restored to the fray and contributing significantly once again.

The 33-year-old was decisive with two goals to condemn Crystal Palace to a 2-1 defeat, a fifth in succession, while hoisting Manchester City on to the shoulders of provisional Premier League leaders Liverpool.

Toure was applauded back into the visitors' dressing room by his team-mates and already boasts as many Premier League goals this season as Paul Pogba across Manchester with United.

He will be aching today, his body screaming in protest after a first league start in six months, but a player who had felt a fading memory of a bygone era only a few weeks ago suddenly appears to be an asset again.

"I was desperate to play because it has been so difficult for me," the midfielder said.

"My team-mates have always been brilliant but I was prepared mentally. I knew, one day, my manager would need me again."

Guardiola, who had been scathing about Toure's fitness levels earlier this season, declared the Ivorian is back to stay in the City squad.

"I would say that Yaya's performance is not about my decision. It is about his quality," the Spaniard said.

"I'm so happy because he's now a real part of the team. He can help us to achieve our targets."

While Guardiola was relaxed with his team level on points (27) with Liverpool at the top of the Premier League on Saturday, Palace manager Alan Pardew admitted his side's fifth consecutive league defeat was worrying.

"We really gave Man City two goals today from mistakes that led to the first goal and the second goal," he said. "Our set-up at corners wasn't completed and should have been better."

THE GUARDIAN, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 21, 2016, with the headline 'Toure brace puts him back in Pep's plans'. Print Edition | Subscribe