Congratulations to Manchester City on winning the Premier League title. My thanks also to Liverpool and Manchester United who recently debunked the theory that Pep Guardiola’s side is the best English football has ever seen.
They are not. No team with such a dodgy defence (they don’t even have a real left-back) can claim that honour. City are great to watch, but the best teams don’t crumble under pressure as the 2017-18 champions have three times this season when faced with Liverpool’s impressive, but predictable, tactics and when Paul Pogba managed to rouse himself in the Manchester derby.
City have comfortably been the best Premier League side this season. They’ve usually been a joy to watch, but Guardiola’s team wouldn’t have beaten Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United side of 1998-99, a team that claimed a treble including the Champions League. United didn’t flounce out of the FA Cup at the hands of League One opposition either.
Does anyone seriously believe Roy Keane and Paul Scholes would have allowed the likes of David Silva and Kevin De Bruyne the freedom of midfield? Would Leroy Sane, a player dominated by a teenage Liverpool right-back in their Champions League clashes, have got the better of Gary Neville? Of course not.
And Dwight Yorke and Andy Cole, prompted by the great Teddy Sheringham, would have run rings round City’s current back four. The mere presence of Ryan Giggs would have stopped Kyle Walker having any influence on a match.
Arsenal’s ‘Invincibles’ of 2003-04 would have had far too much pace and power for City as well. Fernandinho is a poor man’s Patrick Vieira at the end of the day and give me Thierry Henry in any game over Raheem Sterling.
There is of course the very real prospect of City improving. After all they have the financial might to compete for any player in world football. Guardiola will have already targetted two centre-backs and a left-back.
He’s enjoying a honeymoon period with the English press at the moment. Some writers have clearly become besotted with him at the expense of objective journalism.
That will change though if standards are allowed to drop which they might if the other big clubs don’t up their game next season. Complacency is a dangerous enemy.
City have had an easy ride this season as United have become stagnant under Jose Mourinho, Spurs have been unsettled by a change of home ground and Liverpool were distracted by Philippe Coutinho’s desire to leave for Spain. Reigning champions Chelsea’s squad just wasn’t strong enough to cope with the extra demands of the Champions League and Arsenal foolishly kept Arsene Wenger in charge.
City need to land a European prize next season to become one of the great English club sides. Guardiola needs it as well. He has a scratchy record among the elite considering the in-built financial advantages he has.