A wonder was considering the question of size. A manager who has done the exceptional even by his own definition has admitted that it has not been fulfilled. Pep Guardiola has reached that stage. Premier League Headlines feel routine. In a way, these are: there are five in six seasons. The abnormal began to seem normal, the extraordinary began to seem ordinary. Maybe Manchester City the manager asked for greater recognition of the achievement. Or perhaps it reflected a broader interpretation of his reign.

“We have to win this tournament to be considered one of the greatest in Europe. Champions LeagueOtherwise, people will say that our time here is not over.” “There’s something sometimes unfair about the fact that you have to win the Champions League in order to credit or value what we do. It wouldn’t be fair to say that what we’ve done with the Premier League five out of six isn’t extraordinary. In world football, all the managers, players, sporting directors and clubs in the Premier League know how extraordinary it is.”

It is unusual enough that previously only two teams have won five English leagues in six seasons: Liverpool between 1978 and 1984, Manchester United between 1995 and 2001. The ultimate frontier is also the pursuit of reputation.

There’s an ongoing battle for a different kind of legitimacy, Given the 115 Premier League fees this will be heard, perhaps in the very distant future. If some of their funding involves breaking the rules, it could be a definitive decision. If there are one or more asterisks attached to this period, it may not end the discussion or answer the question.

The place of the city in history is both definite and open to debate. Guardiola said: “We don’t need decades to think about how good this is. The evidence is on the pitch; City have kept their brilliance for most of the last six seasons. They may just hit a century-old league goal for the third time; they’ve scored 99 in a fourth campaign. The trio have played a hat-trick in the Premier League and have played in both cups, holding the record for points with 100; Liverpool, the only team to refuse the title at the time, had to start with 26 wins in 27 games in 2019-20.

Guardiola suffered in the Champions League qualifiers but industrialized league winning like few people did. Eleven out of 14 seasons spanning Spain, Germany and England, he talks about the enormous talents he coached, the vast resources he enjoyed, his considerable prowess on the training ground and his vivid imagination. Most seasons involve poking around until you find a formula strong enough to lead to a long streak: in past seasons, it was a string of fake nines or Ilkay Gundogan turning into a boxing, goal-scoring midfielder or using Joao. As a point guard, he turns midfielders like Cancelo or Oleksandr Zinchenko or Fabian Delph into left-back.

The rise in 2023 – and City’s record 12 league wins in a row, 16 home wins in a row in all competitions and unbeaten in 24 games – owed a lot to making John Stones a hybrid midfielder, fullback and centre-back. The great revolutionary Cancelo was exiled when Guardiola left. complains about “happy flowers” “How good and smart I was,” he thought on his team. The Premier League’s accusations of violating financial regulations may have been one reason why the division’s general manager, Richard Masters, awarded City the medal: they helped form a siege mentality.

Manchester City president Khaldoon Al Mubarak with Pep Guardiola

(Getty Images)

There were other factors as well. “Many things have to adapt to get where Manchester City are,” said defeated Chelsea manager Frank Lampard on Sunday. “They built this over the years with an incredible vision of the club. I worked here for a year, I understand the people at the top and how well organized they are, and they brought in a great coach and a lot of great players, so they’re a touchstone.”

Yet perhaps very few came out as great football players. However, Gundogan and Kevin De Bruyne, class actions and big game players, were particularly effective in the encounter. The exponential development of football players under Guardiola’s coaching – Stones, Rodri, Nathan Ake and Jack Grealish are this season’s highlights – can add a dimension. City aren’t alone in heavy spending, but they’ve secured bilateral bargains in 2022 on Julian Alvarez and Manuel Akanji. There’s also the Haaland factor: Erling Haland‘s return over a goal gave a sense of superhuman courage. His target tally and youth have an ominous element that suggests City’s supremacy could last for years. Haaland could have solidified the dominance, but it’s worth noting that City actually won the title in 2017-18, which they won by 19 points.

“A few weeks ago it looked like Arsenal could win the league,” Lampard said. Arsenal was at the top for 248 days; For the past few weeks, they seemed to be terrified of the idea of ​​City before they were beaten 4-1 at the Etihad. But there were times when the Gunners’ lead was up to eight points, and there were times when City felt a bad result, far from losing touch. But the elastic never broke. “So they bring us to our borders,” Guardiola said. “It would have been impossible if we hadn’t won this 12 game series in a row after collecting 50 points in the first game.”

Arsenal scored 50 points in the first half of the season; finishes with two more wins and City gets 52 points from the second half. Theirs was an irresistible reaction that gave a sense of inevitability. They became City’s extra asset, making it difficult for anyone to sack them. They will start as an overwhelming favorite next season and aim to become the first team to win four consecutive English league titles. But there is still much to prove and much to be gained in the Champions League.