By Ian Asabo
On Sunday, as Michael Oliver blew the final whistle in Manchester City’s season finale against Aston Villa, Pep Guardiola was in tears, knowing what he and his side had just accomplished.
The result was the consolidation of a new dynasty in English football, one that has evolved from season to season and is set to continue with the impending rival.
‘We are legends. To win four titles in five years in this country, we will always be remembered’. He says
When Pep was first tasked with the job of turning Manchester City into the best club side in the world, he knew that it was going to become the most difficult project he had ever faced in his career.
He had many doubters in England. Sections of the media and rivals were convinced that his free-flowing football philosophy would not survive in the “fast and furious” mechanisms of English football.
In 2016, his first season, he had one of the oldest squads in the league, with Alexander Kolarov, Gael Clichy, Bacary Sagna, and Yaya Toure all nearing the end of their time in Manchester.
With the task of rebuilding the squad as well as competing at the top level, where his reputation for winning trophies was always going to be reviewed by those involved.
Manchester City failed to win a trophy in his first season, despite thrashings at Leicester and Everton.The media and rival fans were quick to jump on that fact, doubting his ability to manage in English football, with some even calling for him to be sacked.
Before the second season, City had their most important transfer window in the Pep era. They brought in the likes of Kyle Walker, Ederson Moraes, and Bernando Silva, with Aymeric Laporte joining them in the winter window, on whom the team’s spine is built on.
The rest, as they say, is history.
Those associated with the City refer to the 2017/2018 season as the “Centurion” season.Gabriel Jesus was able to secure 100 points on the final day of the season. The number of records broken and created that season is the reason why this team is considered by some as the greatest ever in the league. The point tally does provide the evidence.
In every successful sports dynasty, a rival is always important in order to push their adversary to even greater heights, and in this case, it has been Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool.
Just like the 2021/2022 season, the 2018/2019 was separated by one point, with both teams constantly pushing each other to new levels never seen in the English game.
Liverpool have been a better performer in the cup competitions, appearing in their second Champions League final in four years. They are still on course for a treble season after winning the FA Cup and Carabao Cup, both on penalties.
Winning the league, on the other hand, is a different beast. It requires the winners to be the most consistent over ten months and 38 games in the most competitive league in the world.
Manchester City have been the most consistent side in the league in the last decade, winning the most trophies in that period as well as four titles in the last five years.
A norm of those title runs has been a period in the season where City go on winning runs, leaving the rest of the competitions in the dust. 18 PL wins in a row in 17/18, 14 wins in a row in 18/19 etc.
The constant will to improve by the manager and hierarchy at the club has been the key to the winning formula, with players constantly improving and the hunger by the core group to win has kept the winning machine running.
Khaldoon Al Mubarak, Ferran Soriano and Txiki Bergistrian have always backed the manager and his philosophy, which has made his work easier, enabling him to concentrate on the field, which wasn’t always the case in Munich and Catalunya.
Guardiola is much more calm than he was at his previous clubs, which is why he has stayed at City for longer than before.
Whenever there is a need for improvement, it has been worked upon. A case in point is the signing of Ruben Dias, who arrived and almost single-handedly changed the fortunes of the club with his leadership. Erling Haaland’s impending arrival is further evidence.
The development of academy talents like Phil Foden and Cole Palmer has always appealed to Pep, who has always admired home-grown talent, just like he was all those years ago in Catalunya.
Manchester City won the U-18 and PL2 national titles, which only shows that the talents breaking through are only going to make the first team stronger.
The 90-second blip at the Bernabeu is one that will be hard to forget for a long time, but it is a matter of when, not if, when City finally get their hands on the ‘big ears’.
The impending arrival of generational talent, Erling Haaland, as well as optimism that Pep may sign a new contract, will only send chills to their rivals at home and beyond.