The Malta Independent 23 June 2024, Sunday
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Man City fans party as Guardiola's dominant team wins a record fourth-straight Premier League title

Associated Press Sunday, 19 May 2024, 19:43 Last update: about 2 months ago

Manchester City fans could hardly stand the wait for the final whistle.

Not because they feared a last-minute twist and the unlikeliest of comebacks from West Ham.

The tension during the dying moments of the Premier League season at Etihad Stadium was simply because fans couldn't wait to get the party started after a record fourth-straight English top flight title for Pep Guardiola's dominant team.

A 3-1 win on the day made certain of that and soon a sea of light blue shirts flooded the field. Flares and the smell of sulphur filled the air and delirious fans danced, posed for selfies and simply savored the moment - ignoring the futile pleas from the stadium announcer and messaging on the big screens instructing them to return to their seats.


Winning has become a familiar feeling in these parts. And there is no sign of it getting old as far as the fans are concerned.

Four titles in a row is also six in seven seasons for Guardiola, who has won 17 trophies and counting since heading to the blue half of Manchester in 2016. That number could rise to 18 as soon as next week when City plays Manchester United in the FA Cup final.

In all, Guardiola has won 38 trophies as a coach at Barcelona, Bayern Munich and City to strengthen the case for him to be considered the greatest manager of his era. By comparison, Carlo Ancelotti has won 28, including a record four Champions League titles — one more than Guardiola — and the chance to make that five when Real Madrid meets Borussia Dortmund in this year's final of European club soccer's most prestigious competition.

Another question that will be debated long and hard is whether this City team should be considered English soccer's greatest of all time.

No other English team has won four titles in succession. Not during Liverpool's dominant era in the 1970s and 80s - and not during United's in the 90s and 2000s.

That alone sets City apart - and by winning the Champions League last season, it has also completed a full set of major trophies during an era of unprecedented success.

Guardiola took over a team that was already among the wealthiest in the world after being bought by the ruling family of Abu Dhabi in 2008 and had won two Premier League titles before his arrival. He has gone on to create a near-unstoppable force domestically and continues to hold off the challengers to City's throne.

Arsenal has taken up the fight, previously offered by United and then Liverpool - and pushed City to the wire, having fallen away during the run-in a year earlier.

Still, Mikel Arteta's team couldn't quite get over the line and finished the season two points behind the champion after a 2-1 win against Everton in its final game on Sunday.

Arsenal looks likeliest to push City closest in the coming years, especially now that Jurgen Klopp has stepped down at Liverpool, while Man United looks set for a period of more upheaval.

Whether Arsenal will be able to go one better in the future remains to be seen, given City's financial power to strengthen further and the age of key players like footballer of the year Phil Foden and back-to-back Premier League golden boot-winner Erling Haaland.

How long Guardiola stays on could have a big bearing on City's continued rule. His contract runs until the end of next season.

The outcome of the 115 charges made against City for alleged financial wrongdoing could also be significant. City denies wrongdoing.

That fight is off the field and still to come.

Right now, as far as City's fans are concerned, another party has only just begun.

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