It had been 459 days since Manchester City fans finally made their way inside the Etihad Stadium. But on Sunday, it turned out to be a good opportunity for them to return.
Not only did they see their team show off in the Premier League trophy after a 5-0 victory. But they also said goodbye to the legend that went along, saying goodbye to them in a trademark style.
It fitted that Sergio Aguero, the club’s all-time leading scorer. And City’s most decorated player scored the most points against Everton.
To break the Manchester United player’s record. And he was delighted to raise another silverware at the end of his last home game.
Best of all, 10,000 fans came back to see him. They were at the Etihad for the first time this season, and they enjoyed every moment of it. So is the City manager.
“Sergio is an extraordinary person. It was a perfect match and a time of legendary history, exciting to him.” Pep Guardiola said anxiously afterward.
“I spoke to Sergio on Saturday and asked him, ‘what do you want to do next? How do you feel about your little talent last week? And do you want to play the first or second half?’
“He decided to play maybe 30 minutes ago. But he never told me he just needed three minutes to score two goals.”
There were five minutes between Aguero’s two goals, but the exact details didn’t matter.
He arrived with 25 minutes to go and almost immediately produced two hunting finishes. The first was sent carelessly and out of his boot. The second after the natural race to reach the end of Fernandinho’s cross back home.
“He had scored one goal, and he did score it again,” added Guardiola. “It was just a very perfect, perfect match for him and even perfect for us.”
‘City won games, game after game.’
The latest Premier League victory is the fifth of them in the last ten seasons. And the third since Guardiola took over in 2016.
Asked how the title was won, Guardiola pointed to his team’s winning streak. Out of 21 games in all competitions between December 19 and March 7.
However, the club was hit by a Covid break earlier this year. And a new deal signed in the summer.
Out of those 21 games, 14 were in the Premier League. And Guardiola said: “We have won games, game after game.
“When we had won at Stamford Bridge a 3-1 win over Chelsea on January 3. The way we played when we only had 14 players. We realized we were still there, and we could still do this.
“In December and March, we have won every game in every tournament. That’s when we became champions.”
Guardiola’s first contract at City lasted until the end of the season. But he signed a two-year extension last summer. He feels that it was essential for their success in this campaign.
“The fact is that the players knew we would be stable,” he said.
“Maybe we will have shown that next season, we are the same people, and we will work together. They have seen that this manager will stay for another year, so we keep running, we keep fighting.”
‘You have something special, Sergio.’
Sunday was the last time Aguero will play for City at the Etihad Stadium before leaving the club in the summer.
But he can still get the final edge of a team he has worked so hard for ten years.
The 32-year-old Argentine striker is unwell and is unlikely to start Saturday’s final against Chelsea in Porto.
In any case, when Guardiola prefers to play without the strikers these days.
However, as he has shown with his cameo against Everton, Aguero remains a significant threat on the bench.
His two goals meant he ended up with 184 in City’s Premier League. They were beating Wayne Rooney’s 183 total for Manchester United, the former one-team player.
He was asked if Aguero could play a more significant role in Portugal. Guardiola replied: “Of course. He has something special, Sergio, and he will be ready. He is always ready if we need him to help us win the Champions League.”
‘I want to thank everyone.’
If City beat Chelsea, Guardiola and Aguero could end up in the same position on Sunday, drenched in a swing.
The City team started long before the game. Thanks to the thousands of fans who waited for Aguero and his teammates on the off-field road.
Armed with loud explosives, large flags, and blue flats, they offered a salute greeting to the City. Especially when they saw Guardiola in front of one of the buses and followed them down.
They all were there to greet the new Premier League champions. And to celebrate their third home title in four seasons, But also to thank and bid farewell to one of their greatest heroes.
“Sergio, Sergio,” they sang along with a song that shows that the summer Aguero joined City, in 2011. Their City rivals United made a less successful signing of Phil Jones.
Inside the ground, the crowd kept chanting Aguero’s name again. Before the start of the match when both teams handed him a respected bodyguard.
And then all afternoon, demanding his appearance. When they get their wish, the goals are rightly followed.
There would have been no final strike to complete the hat-trick in the way. He won in his injury-time stint against QPR, who snatched the 2012 title from United. But he now took Rooney’s record, and everyone went home happy.
Celebration day of City is not rich enough.
Speaking at a special ceremony for the one that followed the trophy promotion with the team and fame. And wearing a great spice, Aguero said: “I want to thank everyone, staff but also fans.”
He was given a shirt to mark the time of that famous QPR goal 93:20. And a ticket for the entire season.
A mosaic has been installed on the club’s training ground showing his first goal for City in 2011. And will be followed by a statue outside the Etihad Stadium.
After the presentations were over, Aguero was thrown into the air by his teammates. Before disappearing down the hallway alone, still smiling, with the last wave of cameras.
It was the only day of celebration celebrated by him for the last ten years.