Upon his arrival, much doubt was casted on Pep Guardiola and whether he would make it in the world’s “toughest league”, the English Premier League. In his first season, finishing third, we all thought that it would be a huge mountain to climb.
His signings didn’t work out too well, while the style of football was far from the philosophy we witnessed in Spain and in Germany. To be fair, he did inherit somewhat of an aging squad. Bacary Sagna, Pablo Zabaleta, Fernando, Aleksandar Kolarov, Jesus Navas, Gael Clichy and Yaya Toure were all past their best and were soon shipped out in order for the club to take a few major steps forwards.
And boy, they certainly did!
Last season, Guardiola smashed all types of records, 12 in total, to be precise. Manchester City reached the 100 point-tally, winning 32 times, scoring 106 goals, trailed for just 153 minutes in the league, won 16 times on the road, amassed a total of 50 points away from the Etihad Stadium, surpassed Chelsea’s record of a goal difference of +71, getting +79 in their free-scoring campaign. City also won 18 straight matches that season, which led to them winning the league by a massive 19 points. It wouldn’t be a typical Guardiola season if some passing records were not broken as well with the Citizens attempting 1015 passes against Swansea, completing 942, while they also set a new best possession statistic – 82.95%.
Man City blew every team away, picking them apart with ease, including the big guns.
Football in England was then revolutionized by a Spaniard. Pep improved each player individually, set unthinkable standards, while the only improbable thing for Guardiola was continuity. Could he do it again and successfully defend the league title? How could he improve a near-perfect team? Surely 100 points was no fluke, while anything but another title success would be failure…
Despite the push, despite Liverpool’s greatness, despite the fact that their closest rivals were just one point behind them, despite the Reds losing just once all season, despite the runners-up getting 97 points, they still fell short to Manchester City. What more does Jurgen Klopp need to do at Liverpool to win the league?
This is arguably the greatest Liverpool team that the world has ever seen in the Premier League, and for Guardiola’s Man City to still be ahead, going unbeaten in both ties against the Reds, shows that the Spaniard really meant business in this campaign, becoming the first manager to successfully defend the league title in Spain, Germany and England.
This has been undoubtedly the best title race the Premier League has ever seen. And despite winning it in the end, Guardiola heaped massive praise on Liverpool and recognised the Reds’ impressive season, stating that it helped them to be consistent in their title challenge.
“I have to say congratulations to Liverpool of course, thank you so much,” Guardiola told Sky Sports.
“Last season Manchester City made the standards. They helped to push us and to increase our standards from last season.
“To compete against this team pushed us to do what we have done. It’s incredible, 198 points in two seasons.
“Normally if you get 100 points the tendency is to go down but Liverpool helped us to be consistent,” Guardiola said.
In the 10 seasons he has coached, the Spanish tactician has won eight league titles. If he had to win the Premier League next season, Guardiola would become only the second manager to win three successive titles after Sir Alex Ferguson from 1998/99 to 2000/01 and 2006/07 to 2008/09.
“It will be tougher but we will be stronger too.”
“When you can win two in a row, I have the feeling that next season we will come back and try to be who we are right now,” Guardiola concluded.
Its been a wonderful campaign for Manchester City, but their season isn’t over yet. If the Citizens can beat Watford in the FA Cup final this weekend, which they should do at a price of 2/9, City will become the first club in history to win a domestic treble in England.
We’ve seen many great English teams in the division, including Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea, Arsene Wenger’s ‘Invincibles’ and that Manchester United squad which boasted the fearsome front three of Carlos Tevez, Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo. But still, personally, never have I ever seen a more well-coached, world class and pressure-less side in England’s top flight.
Guardiola gave us the greatest team many of us have seen, in 2011 with Barcelona. Now, with Manchester City, getting a total of 198 points in two seasons, Guardiola has certainly put his name in lights once again as his Manchester City squad will go down in history as one of the best English sides football has ever come across.
He came, he saw, he conquered. Once again, the Pep Effect has worked its wonders.
Written by Jesse Nagel
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