Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Yaya Toure is behaving like a spoilt brat in his birthday row with Manchester City

May 13: the date in 1638 when construction began on the Red Fort in Delhi; the day in 1799 the Treaty of Teschen was signed to end the War of the Bavarian Succession.

But, far more momentously, it is the date in 1983 that Yaya Toure was born in the Ivory Coast.

Only the most loosely educated of us would fail to remember such a historic moment in the evolution of the human species.

Sadly, the miraculous birth slipped the minds of Manchester City’s  high-ups, factotums and players a week ago yesterday when Toure turned 31 — a landmark birthday, by any reckoning.

There they all were, as guests of the club’s owner Sheik Mansour, in the St Regis Resort Hotel on Abu Dhabi’s Saadiyat Island. The Royal Suite there starts at £20,000 a night. The occasion? A celebration of City’s title victory.

Running drinks — and who knows what else? — were laid on. But there was one almighty snag. There was no super car wrapped in ribbons for the birthday boy — and the cake with which he was presented was smaller than the one celebrating the league triumph.

No wonder Toure’s agent, Dimitry Seluk, was the embodiment of injured outrage when he spoke to the media about this slight.

Not only was Toure upset by this snub — diddums — but he is threatening to leave City over it, possibly to return to Barcelona.

Taking umbrage would be risible even if City were not paying him £200,000 a week — or over £10million a year — to kick a ball rather well.

Even in a game drunk on money and tarnished by preening popinjays, this act of vanity almost  carries the power to astonish.

What Toure’s lickspittle forgot is that the fact his client is an outstanding midfielder does not stop him from looking preposterous.

Perhaps realising the absurdity of his position, Toure at first tried to defuse the controversy in a bizarre series of messages on Twitter on Tuesday afternoon.

‘Thanks for all the birthday  messages today,’ he told his 439,000 lucky followers. ‘Card from City just arrived. Must have got lost in the post. Haha.

‘Jokes aside, please do not take words that do not come out of MY mouth seriously. Judge my  commitment to MCFC by my performances.’

But, 35 minutes later, possibly after a phone call from Seluk, he had changed his mind.

Two more tweets appeared, saying: ‘My agent was trying to make a point here on my behalf. Everything Dimitry said is true. He speaks for me. I will give an  interview after the World Cup to explain.’

It was never going to be easy for Toure to detach himself from Seluk’s complaints, which were made in a newspaper and followed up a few hours later on the BBC. The two men are exceptionally close. Toure calls the Ukrainian ‘dad’ and named his second child after him.

The pair have a history of lacking self-awareness. Last year Seluk whined: ‘Around the stadium, while there are pictures of every player commemorating their recent  successes, there is not a single one of Yaya.

‘At the Blues club shop you can find shirts to buy with the name of every player, but not Yaya’s.’

City rightly denied the slur, pointing to huge posters of Toure around the Etihad and replica shirts in his honour.

Yet Seluk continued: ‘This is not about money; a pat on the back is more important than anything.’

This is nonsense, of course. The principal reason Toure signed for City was money (just as it was with Carlos Tevez, David Silva and  Sergio Aguero). He wants the  adulation on the side.

Seluk was at it again when Toure was named African Footballer of the Year. Where, he demanded to know, was the private jet City should have laid on?

Seluk is like a broken record. Last year he was threatening Toure would leave City, citing ‘many  reasons’, among them the notion his client did not ‘feel the respect of the staff’.

Rewind 12 months to May 2012 and Seluk said: ‘Toure has done all he can do at City and needs new motivations. He would like a new challenge.’

Ego-mad players and greedy agents are only part of the problem. Another is clubs indulging their whims.

Liverpool did that with Luis  Suarez when he was in disgrace for biting an opponent. Manchester United accommodated Wayne Rooney’s posturing demands. City tolerated Mario Balotelli for longer than his insolence deserved.

It would be amusing — as well as a blow for sanity — if City gave Toure his cake and candles and sent him on his way to earn a fortune somewhere else, somewhere more appreciative, more caring.





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