Why Manchester City Must Be Regarded As One Of The Premier League’s Best Ever Teams
Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City side are on the verge of clinching their first title in four years and they’ve certainly done it in scintillating style. If the ‘Noisey Neighbours’ were to defeat Mauricio Pochettino’s Tottenham Hotspur side at Wembley on Saturday, they’ll be crowned champions for the fifth time.
Any side that’s able to wrap up a league title in April will no doubt go down in history as worthy champions, especially given the competitive nature at the pinnacle of English football.
Having said that, the discourse surrounding City this season is if they’re eligible for the conversation of the greatest sides in Premier League history, a category many commentators are reluctant to include them in.
And I ask: why not?
This Manchester City side, one not too dissimilar from the one incapable of guarding against simple tactics last season, have come back a different animal this season. Guardiola was regularly questioned about his philosophy and if it’s compatible with English football, and the Spaniard consistently stressed that he’s seeking evolution and not revolution.
And the Citizens have done exactly that, with a significant outlay last summer certainly helping their cause.
While the numbers the champions-elect dished out were eye-watering, the names weren’t so inspiring. Pep got what he needed.
Three full-backs came in – Benjamin Mendy, Kyle Walker and Danilo, accompanied by playmaker Bernardo Silva and Brazillian shot-stopper Ederson. It’s the latter addition who’s made the biggest impact, providing a solid defensive base for Guardiola to build from.
They’re more comfortable dealing with long punts upfield too – their achilles heel last term – and Guardiola has also emphasized the importance of cleaning up the second balls.
Guardiola’s philosophy is all about control, it’s been listed as one of ‘three golden rules’ – as per Guillem Balague’s book about the former Barcelona coach. He has an obsession with keeping the ball on the ground at all times, aerial balls lead to too many 50/50 situations – and that must be avoided at all cost.
It’s a system we’ve seen thrive in Germany and Spain, but this was certainly Guardiola’s toughest test.
And he’s succeeded with flying colours. Dominating games, travelling to rival teams and winning, and dealing with set-backs efficiently and quickly.
One of those impediments included the injury to Mendy which ruled him out for most of the campaign with an ACL injury, scrapping Guardiola’s initial plans to play with a 3-5-2 system. This system would’ve allowed him to partner Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus on a regular basis, something we saw in Man City’s first few games of the season.
Manchester City are also on course to break all kinds of Premier League records, including the biggest title-winning margin, most wins, most points accumulated, most goals scored, and most away wins.
If they were to claim all these records, as well as serve up some of the best football we’ve ever seen in England, then we have no choice but to include them in the conversation.