Home Sport Hungry Manchester City not showing signs of letting up

Hungry Manchester City not showing signs of letting up

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Admirably, Arsenal pushed them very close this season but once again the sight of Guardiola’s players cavorting with the Premier League trophy was the abiding image of the final day.

Manchester City’s Spanish manager Pep Guardiola poses with the Premier League trophy after the presentation ceremony following the English Premier League football match between Manchester City and West Ham United at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north west England, on May 19, 2024. Picture: Oli SCARFF, AFP

MANCHESTER City’s insatiable appetite for trophies spells bad news for any club hoping to break the stranglehold Pep Guardiola’s side continue to have on English football.

Admirably, Arsenal pushed them very close this season but once again the sight of Guardiola’s players cavorting with the Premier League trophy was the abiding image of the final day.

City’s 3-1 victory over West Ham United on Sunday took them to a place not even the great Liverpool side of the 1980s and Manchester United team of the late 1990s and 2000s inhabited.

A fourth successive English league title is unprecedented and the big question is who will stop the City march?

They have averaged 89.7 points in their last four title-winning seasons and, while Guardiola’s side again failed to threaten the 100 they amassed in 2017/18, City proved that when the pressure is really on they are almost impregnable.

Arsenal and Liverpool both headed City in the standings in the final months of the campaign, but the champions put together a blistering run of 19 wins and four draws since their last league defeat by Aston Villa on December 6.

No one was really surprised because, in 53-year-old Guardiola, City have a manager obsessed with perfection.

“It’s a bit demanding at times. It’s tough, but look what he’s done. He demands a lot every single day,” City’s Norwegian goal machine Erling Haaland said of playing for Guardiola. “If you don’t live up to what he expects you have a big problem.”

The Spaniard has now won the Premier League title six times in his eight seasons at the Etihad Stadium and perhaps the only glimmer of hope is that he might decide to follow Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp and step away.

“The reality is I am closer to leaving than staying. We have talked with the club – my feeling is that I want to stay now. I will stay next season and during the season we will talk,” the ex-Barcelona boss said. “But eight or nine years – we’ll see.”

Incredibly, in the 152 Premier League matches City have played across the past four seasons, they have recorded 112 victories with just 17 defeats, racking up 372 goals.

That is in a league regarded as the toughest in Europe, where the huge broadcasting deals mean all 20 clubs have the spending power to sign some of the world’s best talent.

Their Belgian midfielder Kevin de Bruyne, who along with 23-year-old Phil Foden now has six Premier League titles to his name with City, explained that the secret was quite simple.

“The manager sets the tone but this team we enjoy playing with each other. It is not a team with big egos,” he said.

“We play around with each other, we run like crazy and we just enjoy it. The enjoyment is lasting so that’s it.”

It could yet get better for City, with Saturday’s FA Cup final against Manchester United still to come, and there will be no slackening off until another trophy is in the bag and a double secured, hot on the heels of last year’s treble.

City’s season-long winning mentality, meanwhile, propelled them to overtake Arsenal in the Premier League, midfielder Rodri said.

Asked what made the difference, Rodri told Optus Sport it came down to the mentality the two teams possessed. “Arsenal also they deserve (praise), they had an unbelievable season, but I think the difference was in here,” the Spaniard said, pointing to his head.

The 27-year-old highlighted Arsenal’s defensive display at the Etihad in late March which ended in a goalless draw as champions City failed to score despite dominating with 72% possession.

“When they faced us at the Etihad, I saw them and said, ‘Ah, these guys, they don’t want to beat us, they just want a draw’. And that mentality, I don’t think we would do it the same way.

“And we caught them (in the title race). At the end, if you give us one point, we will win the last seven, eight games even though it’s so tough. So I think that shows our mentality.”

Reuters

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