Neil Humphreys: Aguero deserves more respect at Man City
City should never take master poacher for granted
Sergio Aguero scored another hat-trick and was pretty much rewarded with a collective shrug of indifference.
He was just doing against Newcastle United what he does against most opponents.
The Manchester City striker also scored the perfect hat-trick - header, left-foot, right-foot - but his exploits were once again overshadowed.
Alexis Sanchez's imminent move to Manchester United stole the headlines, even if Aguero stole the show as City beat Newcastle 3-1 at the Etihad yesterday morning (Singapore time).
In media terms, there was nothing to see here, just the most consistent English Premier League forward of his generation doing what he always does.
He's a goal-scoring goal-scorer. It's in the job description. What's the big deal?
Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United might have an answer, one they should share with Pep Guardiola.
All season long, the fallen title contenders have coveted a dependable goal source and totemic presence.
Alexandre Lacazette and Alvaro Morata have their strengths, but they are not Aguero. Romelu Lukaku makes for a fine battering ram, but he is not Aguero.
At times, Lukaku has struggled to look like Lukaku.
Only Guardiola has the real deal among those four particular clubs, but the City manager seems permanently dissatisfied.
His unattainable quest for football perfection always leaves the Spaniard searching for something more, an admirable trait in any coach. But he comes across like a guy who's got the perfect wife at home but can't stop playing away.
Aguero's unerring knack of rarely missing shouldn't be taken for granted. He deserves greater respect.
He scored 30 goals last season, but his campaign was considered underwhelming.
He's knocked in 22 this time around and yet the media focus remains on his potential successor, his rumoured replacement, the next big thing.
Sanchez's rugged range of skills would have offered City more creative options had he joined, but was he a guaranteed upgrade on Aguero?
They are both 29 and drop markers like a bad habit, but the Chilean has never quite maintained Aguero's consistency.
Obviously, they play in slightly different positions and it's a moot point in any case as City pulled out of the race for zeroes on Sanchez's salary slip.
But the interminable sideshow also sidelined Aguero, somewhat unfairly considering his recent form.
He's now scored 14 times in 12 league games against Newcastle - a remarkable feat and his perfect EPL hat-trick was the first since… he knocked in five against the Magpies in 2015.
And yet, his manager is linked with every centre forward of repute. Perhaps that's a reflection of City's vast wealth and ambition, but Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo were never one transfer away from being benched.
Superior footballers, no doubt, but the La Liga legends share Aguero's unique ability to chalk up PlayStation goal stats, season after season, at the same club.
But the City striker achieves the feat with a fraction of the fanfare.
Messi has often commented that Aguero's fleet-footed nimbleness in the box makes his compatriot one of the best finishers he's ever played with.
When Roberto Mancini was City manager, he compared Aguero to Brazil great Romario.
He's the goal-scoring gift that keeps on giving.
But Guardiola's sudden appreciation of Aguero's prodigious talent smacks of a manager who's lost a transfer target to a loathed rival and is still without the injured Gabriel Jesus.
Until now, he's given the impression that he's not willing to fully buy into Aguero's brilliance. He wanted something more from his goal-scorer than just goals, a more mobile cog in a fluid City machine that never stops operating.
It's a noble ambition, but again, Guardiola's rivals would happily take a goal-scorer who simply scored goals with Aguero's precision.
In some respects, the Argentinian's style of play doesn't help. Without possession, he's not particularly demonstrative. Against Newcastle, he barely touched the ball in the first half.
Unlike Messi and Ronaldo in their prime, Aguero drifts in and out of matches, which isn't a popular characteristic in the age of the swashbuckling, overlapping forward.
He's almost a throwback to an old-school poacher like Gary Lineker or Jimmy Greaves. He won't chase opposing wing-backs, out-jump a defensive beanpole or drop into midfield.
But find him in the box and he'll finish.
He hardly featured against Newcastle, but scored a decisive hat-trick that ensured City's return to winning ways.
Once again, Aguero's goals have pretty much wrapped up the title.
Guardiola must replace his ageing great eventually and may well sign a bigger name. But he's unlikely to buy a better finisher.