You are listening to the Expresso Sports update. Here is an article on Manchester City’s rise to the top of the Premier League, brought to you by The Indian Express.
“Days before Manchester City’s bid to win their fourth league title in five years, Pep Guardiola compared his side’s consistency in winning the Premier League to Alex Ferguson’s heyday when they reached the same level of dominance. Perhaps this was a statement intended to put salt in the wounds of their neighbors. Perhaps this was indeed the case.
The Citizens will certainly claim so. On Sunday, Guardiola led City to their first-ever dominant run, winning another title in a dramatic finale. His side came from 0-2 down to beat Aston Villa 3-2 to become champions in spectacular fashion amid fierce Liverpool pursuit. He continues their formidable run of titles under Guardiola, who was brought in by the new owners to kick off an era of dominance.
Guardiola said: “Four Premier Leagues – these guys are legends already; people have to admit it. This group of players is absolutely eternal at this club because what we have achieved is so difficult.
“First at 100 points in 2017-18, second at Brighton on the final day, 2018-19, third without people and this one with people is the best.
“It’s the fifth anniversary of the Manchester Arena bombing. It’s a special day for us; we want to share it with the families who suffered from this terrible event.
“I want to congratulate Liverpool for what they have done. The magnitude of our achievement is due to the magnitude of this rival. It makes us prouder because we know which team we are up against and we are incredibly happy. .
Now, let’s take a quick peek into the past.
When a cash-strapped town was redeemed from its life of neglect by Sheikh Mansour, their early days of playing catch-up against an English football dynasty were treated as a ‘money can’t buy everything’ business. Yet City have stuck to their guns, demanding that their football project has nothing to do with United. Even though everything suggested that the cultural significance of their club’s future depended on taking Manchester first, England second, then chasing Europe.
The 2011 league title win over United on the final day sealed the question of how long the battle for Manchester would last. Sir Alex Ferguson may have returned next season to win the Premier League, but the writing was on the wall.
In 2012, City hired Ferran Soriano and Txiki Begiristain – the architects of Barcelona’s famous success in the late 2000s and early 2010s. The idea was to replicate Barcelona’s continued success in Manchester. The owners of City Football Group went on to build and open a £200million football campus – a campus that left Manchester United‘s famous youth facilities behind in the rear view mirror.
As City continued to lay down the red carpet for one of the greatest managers football has ever seen, Manchester United embarked on life after Ferguson and club CEO David Gill. It meant a litany of failures – Moyes, Falcao, Di Maria, Blind, Herrera, Van Gaal – all came, all failed and all left United.
City meanwhile continued to wait as Guardiola took control of the Bundesliga. And in 2016 they finally won their crown jewel – a transcendent manager who could guarantee success and a way forward like no other. During this time, and for years to come, City flouted financial rules unlike any club before them. Inflated sponsorship deals, breaching Financial Fair Play rules – the Manchester club entered rough seas, but when UEFA stood still the Court of Arbitration for Sport provided the Citizens with exit cards from jail. The money spoke and the stocks started flowing.
Meanwhile, across town, a club focused on proactively seeking the best deals on the market were actively trying to break British transfer records in a desperate bid to close the gap with City. In three seasons at United, Pep Guardiola’s eternal rival Jose Mourinho had a net transfer spend of just under £315m. The money allowed Paul Pogba, Romelu Lukaku and Zlatan Ibrahimovic to sign for the Red Devils. Mourinho enjoyed his second season at United, just as he does at most clubs he goes to, winning the Europa League, FA Cup and Carabao Cup.
It was United’s most successful season in the post-Ferguson era, earning 81 Premier League points to finish second behind City and their season-high 100 points. Alluding to the harshness of life at United behind the scenes, Mourinho later said: “I consider one of the best jobs of my career to have been finishing second with Man United in the Premier League, you will say, ‘this guy is crazy'”. He then added: “‘He’s won 25 titles and he says a second place finish was one of his best achievements?'”
As rebuilds and managers changed galore at a club that wanted to trust its old-fashioned managers, City’s golden period under Guardiola began from 2017. He won 10 trophies at the club, including three titles of the Premier League.
Their closest rivalry came from a resurgent Liverpool under Jurgen Klopp, who eventually managed to win them their first-ever Premier League title in 2019, spending far less, but wiser. The Champions League is the only crown that eludes the Spaniard, but signing a striker like Erling Braut Haaland can only mean that that stain should also be erased soon.
Even now, days before winning his fourth league title in England, Guardiola has mentioned United on more than one occasion. Whether it’s invoking Ferguson’s enviable records about to be broken, or how his Barcelona side slaughtered United in two Champions League finals or even recently asking the fans of United joining City as long as they were wearing blue shirts, the Spaniard has spoken.
While United stumbled from one mistake to another, City continued their ascent since 2008. They focused on all the principles of football a top club could pay attention to and maximized their usefulness thoroughly and in 14 years they created a dynasty of their own.
“You were listening to the Expresso Sports Update from The Indian Express. Ask your digital assistant to read the latest sports news from the Indian Express to
stay up to date with the most accurate and reliable updates in the world of sports.