There’s a special place in my heart for every City player but there are some that you just warm to more than others. Fabian Delph is one of them. It’s a combination of the thick Yorkshire accent that has a strange charm to it, the understated, sarcastic nature of his interviews perhaps, his professionalism definitely.
Delph is something of an anomaly among the stars of this current City team but he is a man fully aware of what he is and what he’s not. In his interviews he refers to ‘the lads’ as if he is an outsider looking in, allured by the team’s current form like a fan would be. He knows he doesn’t possess the lightning speed of Leroy Sané or the vision of Kevin De Bruyne, but has faith in his own strengths. He’s ambitious; the move from Aston Villa meant a significant increase in pay but Delph didn’t perform a double U-turn just to sit on the bench. He’s here to play, to contribute.
Against Shakhtar Donetsk on Tuesday night Delph proved he has a lot to offer. City won their second Champions League tie of the season by two goals to nil and the 27-year-old impressed filling in for the injured Benjamin Mendy at left-back. The natural central midfielder made two key passes, won one aerial duel and averaged a 90.6% pass accuracy rate in a disciplined 90 minutes that earned him a Who Scored match rating of 8.27. Only De Bruyne, scorer of City’s opening goal, achieved a higher score.
Pep on Delph: “Amazing. He was MOTM. A guy who is so kind and helpful and is intelligent and has physicality and doesn’t lose the ball.” pic.twitter.com/n3NmhImB6Y
— City Watch (@City_Watch) September 26, 2017
Of course, Delph does not provide the attacking ferocity that his teammate Mendy does down the left-hand side but Tuesday night’s showing will have assured Pep Guardiola that he is more than capable of filling in when needed.
“Anybody that gets the opportunity to play will be happy and give 100% and I felt I did that tonight,” said Delph after being handed his first start of the season.
Delph was among the goals in City’s 5-0 dismantling of Crystal Palace at the weekend, curling a stunning strike into the top corner to polish off a dominant display. Of course, in his natural and preferred central-midfield role Delph has the assets to help the side see out games as he did against Roy Hodgson’s side but with Mendy expected to be absent for the foreseeable future, the England international will surely be presented with more opportunities to show his worth much closer to his own goalkeeper.
Whether or not Guardiola, who has been preparing Delph for left-back duty for the past fortnight in training, will put faith in him stopping one of the league’s best attackers in Eden Hazard on Saturday evening is another matter. Should Guardiola put his faith in Delph again, he’ll be ready to step up.