News From Manchester: Fernandinho rediscovers perfect Man City role to get his dream ending – Simon Bajkowski

Injuries to others had given the 37-year-old the chance of a golden end to what has been a glittering career at the Etihad, and there were no signs of creakiness when he stepped in for Ruben Dias against Newcastle, or in a 5-1 demolition of Wolves.

An injury picked up in that game seemed to have ruled him out of facing West Ham, only to recover like a man half his age. The problem in East London was that Michail Antonio exposed him for what he is: a veteran midfielder filling in at centre-back.

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With Nathan Ake apparently unfit to start for a fifth consecutive game, Pep Guardiola opted to keep the departing skipper as Aymeric Laporte's partner rather than welcome back John Stones with the England international moving in at right-back, Joao Cancelo moving to the left, and Oleksandr Zinchenko benched.

Before the first half was up, Fernandinho had struggled so much that there were legitimate questions over whether a player who was being honoured with a celebration on the pitch after the match should be allowed to see his final appearance out with dignity.

It didn't look like that would be the case when he was hooked at half-time and then Philippe Coutinho put Aston Villa 2-0 up with less than a third of the game to go. However, a man who deserved a better ending a club he has given everything to, got one.

Just as he has done as club captain over the last two years, even when he cannot help on the pitch he has still spurred his teammates on and the 37-year-old was one of a handful of players giving out more instructions than Guardiola in the final minutes of the game to see City hang on to their dramatic turnaround.

In that frenzied finish, Fernandinho became the club's most decorated player and his presentation after the match became a celebration rather than a commiseration. And in typical fashion, some of his final words were for the club and its fans.

To have won this trophy four times in five years really is amazing. Everyone knows the Premier League is the most competitive in world football, but we have shown consistency over a long period,” he said. “That is testament to what City have built.

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