A Quadruple of Trophies on is on the table
It seems like every year someone raises the question about Manchester City‘s credentials in the form of a quadruple or treble. To their credit they have been in the conversation in most years under uber coach Pep Guardiola. The Spaniard has a multitude of talent at his disposal but nobody can say he disregards any competition as he seems to go full pelt for every game they play. The emphasize this they have won 5 of the last 7 ELF Cups.
This shows how serious they take every competition. Where most clubs prioritise this competition last on their wish list Guardiola doesn’t see it the same way. This season they are 14 points clear in the Premier League with another EFL Final on the cards against Spurs next month. A 1/4 Final game against Everton is on the horizon this Saturday and they have secured a Champions League 1/4 final place with 7 clean sheets. Could this be the season?
Pep in a League of his own.
Having a CV with Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Manchester City doesn’t come much better but it is the manner that Pep uses his personnel that impresses. When at Barcelona he was often criticised for his use of his first eleven by overplaying them in practically every game. While he shuffled his pack in defence he rarely even subbed off his star midfielders and forwards. At their most dominant under Pep he played Xavi, Iniesta and Busquets as a trio regardless of the opposition. This would be similar to Manchester City when he relied on De Bruyne, Silva and Fernandinho to bring him success.
Incredibly since his time at Barcelona, he has a win% that is over 72% across his three clubs. When compared to Jose Mourinho on 63% he only managed to break the 70% mark once, when he managed Real Madrid. He still only produced one league title from this run thanks largely to none other than Pep. This is not a one off occasion, just ask Jurgen Klopp! One of note is Zinedine Zidane has a 76% win rate which is the only one who compares. Even if we look back historically, Alex Ferguson was only winning 59% of his games while at Manchester United. Obviously i am joking by saying ONLY! These are serious percentages of top class managers. This is why Pep makes a case that he could be the worlds best. Would a quadruple prove that?
The Cup Conundrum
Not exactly what you would call an achilles heel as such. But there is no doubt that despite Peps league winning success in every country he has managed is not mirrored by cup success. Rightly so you would think! The nature of a cup competition dictates that any team can win a one off game. Teams tend to raise their game considerably in Quarter/Semi Finals of competitions as they dream of winning silverware. These are pivotal in trebles and of course a quadruple.
Manchester City, despite taking multiple League titles in the last five years they have struggled to even reach the final of the FA Cup with a single win and two semi final appearances. The Champions League though is the real holy grail for them as they aim to repeat their last success in 1970. Despite being favorites in recent seasons it has not helped Guardiola’s men take the biggest prize in football. They have always been good in Europe but the extra expectation seems to place a bullseye on their backs. Small margins count and if anyone remembers the years they went out to domestic rivals Liverpool and Spurs it shows that even teams like City can be vulnerable to the away goal rule.
This season is no different but City will feel they can have a serious chance of winning with Bayern the main threat. You would fancy City to overcome most teams over two legs. Of course you also need a little luck when it comes to these one off games as the smallest margin can count at this level.
The big finish ahead
The main reason why i think this really could be a hugely successful year for City is the state of their squad. Literally every member of Peps squad is available. The league is all but wrapped up and with their experience on closing out a season this should be a formality. This is massive when chasing a Champions League title as they can rest key players for weekend games so they can prioritize the Champions League. The strength in depth is incredible for City as most players that make up their 2nd eleven are more than capable of stepping up without drastically reducing their performances. This is vital when chasing a quadruple.
This season will surely come down to key one off games for them. Already they have a Final for the EFL against Spurs booked in. Then it is an interesting watch to see if they are fortunate to draw anyone but Bayern in the next round of the Champions League. As mentioned i already think the League title is theirs so focus can remain on getting the squad right for these pivotal knockout rounds.
Why this season?
With this now a common theme for City over the past 5 years why is it more on the cards now than ever? Even mentioning a quadruple seems the stuff of dreams but there are reasons why. Firstly they have hugely improved in their defencive capabilities. Ruben Diaz and forgotten man, John Stones, have struck a seriously good relationship. If we remove the Manchester Derby from the last 4 months they have been imperious in their displays.
Then we have the striker issue – which they have managed turned on it’s head. What team has ever played without a known front man to spearhead their attack and been so successful with it? They have proven goal scorers all over the pitch. They can boast 6 different players with over 4 goals each this season already. This makes them extremely dangerous in all positions perhaps aside from CDM. There are few sides in Europe that can boast these figures.
With both Barcelona and Juventus going out of Europe already it shows that the quality is not what it usually is. Realistically only PSG if on their game and Bayern can offer up a team that City would really take notice of. You would imagine that over 2 legs particularly they will see off the likes of Dortmund as they have too many defencive frailties.
What is the Verdict?
With the League title already in my opinion a formality. This season i think we will definitely see a Double and likely see a treble from City. I would see the Champions League as their most prioritized piece of silverware and if they are to win it this has to be the season for them. The FA Cup is similar in that regard purely as with less shock results this season Manchester United/Chelsea are likely to be their biggest challengers in this quest. I am going to back them to beat Spurs in the EFL and take one of the FA Cup/Champions League. This will create a hugely successful season for them with only a fine margin perhaps denying a quadruple.
They could not be in a better position to go for it on all fronts. Do you think City will write their names into history? Feel free to comment below.