Sylvinho can see a silver lining at Manchester City
It is a measure of the fact that Manchester City enter an Old Trafford derby match on parity with their neighbours for the first time in perhaps 40 years on Sunday that one of the stars of the Barcelona's European conquistadores will be reduced to a seat on Mark Hughes' bench.
Sylvinho's outstanding wing back's performance against Manchester United in Stadio Olimpico was forgotten amid the paeans to Pep Guardiola's midfield architects but it contributed to Wayne Rooney's quiet night in Rome and the Brazilian says Barcelona's victory must now embue City with a belief that they can beat United too.
“If you want to live a dream then first and foremost you have to believe the dream can happen and believe in your work,” said a player whose one-year contract at City is a pleasant and lucrative finale to a career which began with Arsenal in 1999.
“You have to work so hard. If you don't, you won't win. There are players who have come here [to City] with great experience of Champions League football and important matches and I think that will really help the club.”
When Sylvinho related the story of the Champions League final to his team-mates, who have been keen to see his medal, he told them that Barcelona were not surprised by the ease of the victory — in which United, as Rio Ferdinand has described it, did not “not even put up a fight.”
“We weren't surprised because we knew that we were the best team in the competition,” Sylvinho related. “We had the best players, played the best football and were in a great moment. Anything can happen in a final but we were so confident in our game.”
The image of a former Brazilian international settling back in the Carrington dressing room to relate such tales to his teammates will delight Hughes.
The City manager has expressly set out to buy players who have won the trophies City now convet in the hope that the “winning mentality”, which he says City have lacked, will rub off.
“[Our players] have not just asked questions about the Champions League; they recognise [all that] Barcelona did in the last season, which was amazing. There's a lot of respect towards Barcelona,” the 35-year-old said.
He sees Hughes building a dynasty at City as Sir Alex Ferguson has done across town. “He's a strong character,” Sylvinho observed.
The club are taking comfort from their best to start a top flight league season since 1961-2, when they also won four on the trot.
“A few weeks ago City beat Barcelona [1-0] in a friendly,” Sylvinho reflected. “The team is very good, it's a strong side with a good mentality. Of course we still have to improve things but we're an important club in Europe today.”