Manchester, England — All that remains now is to enter a few final administrative details. Manchester City may not need another kick to clinch their third Premier League title in three seasons if last-minute rivals Arsenal falter against Nottingham Forest on Saturday. .
Even if they can’t do that, a win in City’s remaining three games would be enough. The most likely match will be against Chelsea, the first opponents. Chelsea are now basically the antithesis of City, and it’s also chaotic proof that just burning money isn’t enough to guarantee success.
The reality, of course, is that whatever scenario becomes a reality, we’re just hanging on to what has been a fait accompli for some time. There are many interpretations of where this season’s turning point came from. It may have been City’s dismantling of Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium in February. Or the humiliation of the same opponent at the Etihad Stadium two months later.
Pep Guardiola suggested neither moment was exactly right. He said an impromptu meeting in the aftermath of the incident changed everything. Draw with Nottingham Forest in February. It was the moment the Manchester City manager believed, or wanted to believe, that his players had sat down and taken the lead, turning the Premier League into their will.
Or perhaps none of them are true. Perhaps there is no turning point to identify. It is very likely that the season will simply end as usual, and the Premier League season tends to end more and more. Perhaps the outcome was predetermined. Perhaps deep down we all knew how this was going to turn out.
Either way, the day will soon come when another item will be left off Manchester City’s to-do list. Only a handful, four to be exact, have won three consecutive British titles. Huddersfield Town in the 1920s, Arsenal in the 1930s, Liverpool in the 1980s and Manchester United in the early part of the century won it twice. .
The feat has so far been monopolized by Huddersfield and Arsenal managers Herbert Chapman and Alex Ferguson. (Liverpool changed coaches midway through.) It has long been seen as the ultimate gateway to greatness, the undisputed pearly gate. Manchester City, and Guardiola himself, will go through it.
In doing so, City set a new milestone in what appears to be a deliberate campaign to comprehensively build irrefutable evidence that this is the greatest club team England has ever produced. will reach
During Guardiola’s six-year tenure, City devoured every record and topped nearly every statistical leaderboard in the sport. This is the most points ever scored by any team during the season. and most goals. Recorded the most consecutive wins in the season, the highest goal difference, and the highest winning percentage.
They became the first team to win all four domestic trophies. Erling Haaland can claim to own the most prolific striker in a single season in the Premier League. At some point, the warning may become unnecessary. Haaland scored 12 goals and is five games away from breaking the all-time record. Even if I didn’t do it this year, I might do it next year.
In fact, the City’s dominance at home is so great that it must search further horizons for other worlds it can conquer. By skipping Manchester United in the FA Cup final and Inter Milan in the Champions League final, City will achieve the most legendary and sacred feat that has happened once in England’s history, a treble of its very own. It will be
After that, the ambition turns into something faintly fantastic. No team has ever won four consecutive English titles. No one has won seven competitions or completed a quad in one year. No English team has held the European Cup since Nottingham Forest. Perhaps City could be the first team to win a game in zero gravity, or using only their left foot, or with a line-up consisting entirely of people called Neil.
It has come to reflexively seem to me that this is just the nature of football. As former Manchester City captain Vincent Compagny put it, there will always be a ‘demon’ in the squad, perched on top of a mountain, towering over the landscape and sucking up all the oxygen. “Nothing has changed,” Kompani said in an interview with The New York Times earlier this month. “Liverpool were demons. Manchester United were demons.”
There is some truth in that logic, but not all of it. In the 1970s and his bountiful 1980s years, Liverpool was an undeniably wealthy club. In the years before broadcast revenues, television deals and money-making world tours, Liverpool had one advantage. big city stadium.
But it wasn’t dramatically wealthier than most of its rivals. The challengers were sometimes Manchester United, Leeds and Everton, but also Ipswich, Derby County and Nottingham Forest. The game had much flatter hierarchies and less rigid hierarchy.
Between 1977 and 1991, Liverpool held the British transfer record twice, by sale, first for Kevin Keegan to Hamburg and then for Ian Rush to Juventus. At the time, West Bromwich Albion, Wolves, Forest and City all spent more money on their players than ever before. Liverpool didn’t break the £1 million barrier until 1987.
United’s dominance was much more modern, much more recognizable and built on the club’s commercial dominance. But it’s worth parsing one of his phrases that entered the sport’s lexicon during this time: “Fergie time.” Fergie time is the idea that referees generally give United as much time in a match as they need to find a way out of disappointment.
Of course it wasn’t. It was because of Ferguson’s highly talented team character and resilience that United had developed a reputation for late winning goals. But even then this thought did not go away.
United were the dominant team of the era. But it was also possible for opposing fans to trick themselves into thinking that it was all down to luck, the grace and goodwill of those in power, and that if the fight was fair, United would have a comeback.
The same cannot be said for Manchester City. All these records, the monopolies that have begun to affect the history of football, demonstrate a type of hegemony that English football has never experienced before. City have not only reconfigured what it takes to succeed in the Premier League, they have also redefined the concept of excellence in the game. Its dominance feels more extreme than ever before.
But the reaction to that was not the disgust generated by Liverpool and United (a animosity so powerful that it has been passed down from generation to generation), but a kind of acquiescence. Guardiola’s style of play has been widely admired. The beauty of his team and the ingenuity of his ideas have garnered heartfelt and unflattering admiration.
But the club’s own success feels somewhat callous, clinical, and isolating. Manchester City have a machine vibe, both in the way they build their projects and the way they play their teams. So it should come as no surprise that it evokes nearly the same emotional response. This is a state-backed enterprise of immense wealth and grand vision. It may not be easy to love, but it’s even harder to resist.
Few teams Guardiola had at his disposal, but City’s advantage is not, as is often lazily implied, that they can spend more money than others. Manchester United stripped hundreds of millions of dollars in the transfer market. Chelsea too. Liverpool pays teams about the same amount.
The edge lies in consistency. City are seldom, if ever, forced to sell players outside of their own terms. That’s what distinguishes us from other products above all else. Many clubs have plans. Only the City has the privilege of avoiding the unwanted invasion of reality and making it through. A club that does not operate under the same pressure as other clubs.
But that’s not the same as not playing by the same rules. It is doubtful that the run of good, which would end with Guardiola’s team winning another title, began more than a decade after the club was indicted for 115 rule violations throughout his reign. not by chance. Premier League.
These indictments hold the ability to change, at a fundamental level, all of the best, firsts, and bests the city has accumulated over the years. Titles, trophies, records, they all depend on the incident.
It is entirely possible that the idea that it is acceptable to own and operate clubs to advance the interests of nation-states is acceptable to fans and games alike. It’s entirely possible that television networks and news outlets that rely on that tumultuous soap opera will find moral gray areas and dodge them.
But it would be much more difficult for a team to excuse and explain that they felt the rules they signed up with didn’t really apply, and above all to accept, to decide that they didn’t have to follow the same constraints. just like everyone else. Manchester City will win their third title in three seasons. One step before the treble. His name is carved next to almost every record English football can offer.
It’s pretty clear what it’s been doing over the years. How it will be remembered is yet to be determined.