Ivorian star Yaya Toure is closing the drapes on a fascinating and largely prosperous eight years in this part of the city. And he does not want his big night soured in any way.
The players in the starting XI will be told that Brighton must be ruthlessly dispatched. Manager Pep Guardiola said on Tuesday that City want to ‘win for Yaya’ and there is a desire to give the midfielder, 35 next week, the Etihad send-off he deserves.
This will be his first Premier League start of a personally disappointing season and he wants to finish with a flourish. He will certainly be afforded that luxury by the club, who plan a presentation at full-time. There is a willingness to honour Toure’s achievements.
It is why chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak has renamed a pitch at City’s academy after the Ivorian. Youngsters will now pass a mosaic of Toure before training.
‘It’s something you can look at and see how effective you have been,’ Toure said. ‘This club was my first wife — even my wife knew it.’
Only Manchester politician Sir Howard Bernstein – the man behind the construction of what is now City’s stadium – and the club’s legendary manager Joe Mercer have mosaics in their name around the Etihad campus. Now that will also be Toure’s legacy.
That and the feeling of being among a clutch of players who took City into a new era.
The goals in the 2011 FA Cup run, scoring the semi-final winner against Manchester United and then the only goal of the final against Stoke to end City’s 35-year wait for major silverware, were two historic moments.
‘At half-time (against United) we were nearly fighting in the dressing room,’ Toure revealed. ‘We said go out and play like men — or we go home and say to Khaldoon, “Thank you, we’ve eaten the money but we move on because this club will never achieve”.
‘You saw a different City in the second half. The win was a message. They knew City were coming.
‘Some said I came not to win trophies but was more impressed by money. The purpose was to put United in the shadow. The semi-final was a big part of that.’
The rows about birthday cakes, contracts and the outbursts by his agent Dimitri Seluk are long forgotten. Those who matter at City know Toure gave everything for their cause.
Guardiola believes Toure – stung by criticism from certain pundits – can continue playing in England. That is where he would like to stay and he is confident of securing a Premier League move.
‘What these fans and what this club want from me, I have given,’ Toure added. ‘It’s like I’m empty. I’m free to go. The most difficult part will be playing against City.
‘Maybe clubs need my experience. When I’m around the young guys, I affect them. Gabriel Jesus was not playing and not happy. I took him to one side and gave him a pat on the back.
‘The manager doesn’t know I’m doing that. That’s why you see the guys sing my name and come to slap me.’