Sky Sports' Geoff Shreeves meets Manchester City midfielder Yaya Toure ahead of Super Sunday clash with Liverpool
By Geoff Shreeves
Last Updated: 18/03/17 7:43pm
Sky Sports' Geoff Shreeves sat down with Manchester City midfielder Yaya Toure ahead of their crunch top-four clash with Liverpool, live on Super Sunday...
Yaya Toure talks almost exactly like he plays. In the same way he picks up the ball from deep and goes on one of those lung-busting mazy runs, when he is given a subject he takes a deep breath and off he goes.
He also speaks at a fair pace so you have to have your wits about you to try and keep up. But there was plenty for him to discuss.
From being frozen out by Pep Guardiola to his soul searching and determination to turn things around, plus why he would love to stay at the club. He covered it all in this wide-ranging interview...
GEOFF: It's been a strange season for you, the first part you didn't feature and now you've just played 12 Premier League games in a row. How would you describe it so far?
YAYA: It's been very strange. I've been at City for a long, long time and I find this one very different. I have had to find something deep from inside me. I struggled at the beginning but to be honest, when you are a big sportsperson at a high level in sport, sometimes you have to put all the other things out of you and just try to express yourself, for you, the fans and the people that love you.
I was having a lot of chats with people close to me, close family, and it was quite hard. I found it difficult but I always said I love the difficulty. I am very, very satisfied with what I've done. I've tried to work hard coming back into the team and tried to give my best to make the manager happy and let me play.
GEOFF: How difficult was it for you and what was going through your mind when you were out of the picture?
YAYA: I had a time thinking is there something I have to do more? Or is it something I have to show to the fans and to show to the manager that I'm better than that, that I can make it and that I can help him?
Pep is the manager and I've known him a long time. From Barcelona we know each other. He is a guy that is very strict and very dedicated to his job. If you want to fit in his team and fit with him, like I consider I fit with him, you have to show him you want it.
I remember having a chat before the season started and he's a guy that likes to challenge his players.
'You want to show me, you want to tell me you're the best? Show me then.'
He's not about talk, he's not a bluffer. He's very strong and very honest with all his players. For me it was a big challenge because there were young lads around me and sometimes when you are the oldest player you have to show an example to the young players coming through. Some of them are looking to you and want to be like you and sometimes if you do the wrong things, it can affect the team, affect people, affect the fans.
In the last year, things have gone wrong with me and people close to me, there was a lot of negativity, but now the most important thing is just putting the negativity outside and the positive things coming in, that's what I like.
GEOFF: You have a great relationship with the Man City fans and have been at the club a long time - was there part of you thinking I don't want to leave Man City like this?
YAYA: Definitely, the fans were a massive part of that. To be honest the manager was the one who tried to get my best. Last year I was overweight, it was a difficult situation, there were a lot of problems with my family.
I was talking with him most of the time and people were not seeing that on the screen. Those talks will stay between him and me. He knows what I can do and what I'm capable of doing.
Like he said, he's been honest with me. He is the guy that pushed me up, made me come back and that's why I'm feeling respectful with him and that's why I want to show him he was right.
Psychologically he was quite hard. To manage a football player at this time is so difficult because football players have to deal with so many things.
Sometimes when you are younger you can struggle but when you have experience and have help around you, you can make it.
GEOFF: Pep said he wanted you to apologise and to lose weight. Was it good for you because he was so direct?
YAYA: People have different ways of behaving. We are human beings as sportspeople and we have to understand that. He's been clever in a lot of aspects, not just with me.
Everybody has their opinion but this guy knows what he wants. He's come to the team under a lot of pressure. We want to try to help him achieve what he wants to achieve.
He knows when one player is going to be down because he's been a big, big player as well. He understands the game very well.
He is a special guy in football and I think for me it was something quite bizarre in the beginning. I knew him from Barcelona and Barcelona was tough in the beginning as well because the guy is a hard worker and he wants his players at 100 per cent.
'Just do what I want on the field and we are friends. If you don't, bye.'
GEOFF: How good does it feel now to be fit, playing and part of his plans?
YAYA: It is always good, a football player is always happy when he's part of a team. I always try to prepare myself to be fit, 100 per cent, and if you tell me to play, I will be delighted.
Sometimes you have so many games, it is becoming more difficult mentally and physically. We have a large squad but I am the kind of player who wants to play all and to participate in all the games.
I try to be perfect but sometimes it is very, very hard. At my age now I want to play more years but it depends.
GEOFF: Have you adapted your game as you've got older? Are you now playing a slightly different role?
YAYA: This role I've been able to play in Barcelona. In my career I've been able to play more up front or more defensive. I think it's only goalkeeper I never made it!
I am very delighted because I always said any position for me will be welcome just to help my team-mates. That's what makes me happy.
GEOFF: Were you aware of the criticism when you were playing for Man City? People said it was too easy to get the ball around you. Did that bother you at the time?
YAYA: In football, everything can happen. Sometimes people say something wrong but they don't understand because playing week-in, week-out is not easy.
You have to be professional, you have to manage your body, manage yourself, manage your food and prepare mentally to play all the games at 100 per cent.
All games are different. You can play with a defensive team, you can play with an offensive team and the manager is the boss, the leader.
People don't understand sometimes in the dressing room the manager adapts his team because of his opponent.
Those guys who criticise, on TV or wherever, sometimes they look like they know football better than anybody, but I always respect my manager and when my manager tells me to do something, I do it.
That's why I don't look at the criticism or opinion.
GEOFF: The manager has said we'll sit down and discuss Yaya's contract at the end of the season. Would you like to stay beyond the end of this season?
YAYA: In my first press conference, I told the media I come to City to achieve, to make a story and to be a big part of this club.
When I look back it is something that is very important for me. The fans have been a big part of that because I have been at clubs around the world and enjoyed my football, but the fans at City have been unbelievable. Not just for me, but for my family, my brothers.
If I have to leave City I want to leave with something very, very important. We know what we want, the fans as well, the club, the chairman, and what I have to do is my best, try to achieve everything and to help this club for as long as possible.
The day I will be done, I'll know myself. I know my body and I'll say, 'Yes, I'm done'.
GEOFF: But now you feel re-energized, you are enjoying yourself and really would like to stay and be a part of the new wave of success at City?
YAYA: Definitely. I love this football club.