For about a decade now, Manchester City have been the neutral’s favorite to win England’s biggest competitions.
You see, fans of Man Utd, Arsenal, Liverpool and Chelsea are simply too unbearable for them to enjoy success. Tottenham have seldom been close enough to concrete success. City was the perfect center – they were a largely offensive club that had not won much since the early 1970s.
City’s victory in the 2011 FA Cup was the first of many triumphs owned by Abu Dhabi United Group / Jamie McDonald / Getty Images
Gary Neville said in 2014 about a title race between City and Liverpool that it was like “having the choice of two fighters to snap your wife”, even though that feeling was not mutual outside Manchester. Since then, City have won three of the last four Premier League titles, four EFL Cups in a row and an FA Cup. They were the first – and so far only – team to reach 100 points in English top history, and yet it is still not enough. There’s a new generation of City fans who just know about winning.
Pep Guardiola has further cemented his place among football’s best managers ever. But his tactical ingenuity must take the back seat for now, to win the Champions League is all that will mean from here on into the Etihad Stadium.
City launched a £ 100m move for Jack Grealish on Friday as they look to give more depth to the most stacked team in world football, a side where key players such as Bernardo Silva and Raheem Sterling are already unhappy with their playing time. ‘Pep roulette’ has been a term normalized by Fantasy Premier League players due to Guardiola’s crazy rotation of his star player.
At this point, it’s analyzing City’s tactics and trying to replicate them as if I were buying a book from Jeff Bezos on how to become a billionaire.
Only Europe’s top prize will do for City now / Matthew Ashton – AMA / Getty Images
Guardiola has repeatedly preached that poor City are priced out of motion for some of world football’s best talent, that they ‘can not replace’ striker Sergio Aguero (a notion that the player’s father openly mocked). Signing Grealish could take City’s spending past £ 900m since Guardiola took over in 2016.
They have had the luxury of the coronavirus pandemic that has hardly hit the club’s finances. At the same time, the newly crowned champions of France and Italy have sold out some of their best talents to stay afloat.
The good news for City’s Premier League rivals is that it could mean they would not have enough left in the tank to chase Harry Kane, so every cloud. You’re still thinking about the bad news, right?
Maybe this is just another sign that football is broken and it is not really City’s fault that the best team in the country can so freely make movements like this. If you had the resources to further strengthen your team in this way, why not do so?
The problem is that the Champions League is the last great honor left for City to win, and they should probably have won last year and frozen in the final against Chelsea. Most teams spend unpleasant amounts of money to strike down, not to strike down, and signing Grealish is hardly a priority for a team with so many options in its position already.
Thomas Tuchel beat Guardiola three times towards the end of last season / Pierre -Philippe Marcou – Pool / Getty Images
Before that final back in May, the story was once again making the rounds that City hired Guardiola to win the Champions League. That was the main goal, and it’s true. Should the club’s expenses lead to Grealish or Kane, there will be a huge black mark next to Guardiola’s name in football debates for several years if he cannot take the European Cup to Eastlands.
Thomas Tuchel, who beat this city team after coaching a Chelsea side that was a strange amalgamation of different leadership visions for half a year, was a much more impressive leadership performance than anything Guardiola has done in a couple of seasons at least.
City are probably the favorites to conquer Europe this season, whether Grealish or Kane join. They are still the most oiled machine with many of their best players in their prime, and half of the continent’s elite clubs are rebuilding and recovering from the pandemic anyway. But the pressure is increasing on them.
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