Kevin de Bruyne was hailed as playing football “on another level” by his manager Pep Guardiola after the Belgian maestro orchestrated another Manchester City symphony on Saturday.
City maintained their season’s 100 percent competitive record with the 4-0 annihilation of Bournemouth, breaking a 119-year-old club record in the process, and afterwards Guardiola could not have been more effusive in praise of his remarkable midfielder.
De Bruyne scored the first and was involved in the other three goals, continuing a run of form which has been instrumental in City winning eight successive games under Guardiola, surpassing the record of seven set in the Victorian era in 1897.
“The performance from Kevin was terrific, amazing,” Guardiola enthused. “He is on another level. He is a fantastic player.
“I think he’s a special player, an outstanding player. Without the ball, he is the first fighter; with it, he sees the right move every single time. We are lucky to have him.”
City fans think they are lucky to have Guardiola too.
Former England midfielder Jermaine Jenas, now a pundit for BBC, echoed their feelings, noting with awe after the win: “The way Guardiola has them playing at the moment is astonishing. It’s like watching Barca at the Nou Camp.”
At the heart of it all is De Bruyne, who looks the complete midfielder all season, his tireless running allied to such intelligence and skill that it is now easy to believe that had injury not sidelined him for two months last season City would have won the title.
The Belgian was at the centre of all City’s most exquisite moves, and his interplay with Kelechi Iheanacho, Raheem Sterling and Ilkay Gundogan, who all got on the scoresheet, left Bournemouth paralysed.
His vision and excellence were embodied in the first goal, a free-kick which he deliberately fired along the ground into the net after sensing that the Bournemouth wall would leap in unison anticipating a curler over the top.
It was just one of 25 goals that City have scored in eight games, which would make it easy for City’s faithful to get hopelessly carried away. Guardiola, though, warned against the euphoria.
“I’m so happy. We’ve won a lot of games and people say very nice words. But I know our world, I see that trainers who didn’t win are so criticised. I know we are going to lose games. Important ones. I need to be stable,” he warned.
“We know we have a lot of things to get better. Everything starts with that humble attitude. We played like a small team without the ball and that is why I’m so proud. People like it when famous players run for the ball.”