If Guardiola says City are winning 4th successive time, we'd better believe him | Football News - Hindustan Times
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Guardiola is not given to hubris. If he says City are going to win for 4th successive time, we'd better believe him

Dec 06, 2023 08:35 PM IST

Pep Guardiola's belief that Manchester City will secure victory for the fourth consecutive time carries weight, and it is advisable to take his words seriously.

This season is special from Manchester City’s point of view. No club or manager has ever won the Premier League four times in a row. So there is a lot at stake for them. But the big question is: will they be able to do it for the fourth successive season? After 14 matches, they have accumulated 30 points. Since their 6-1 thumping win against Bournemouth early last month, they have not got full points from any of the three matches they have played in the Premier League. Draws against Chelsea, Liverpool and Tottenham have set them back a little. As of now, placed 3rd, they are trailing leaders Arsenal by six points with one game in hand. Last season too they were trailing after 14 matches, on 32 points. In fact, at one point they were trailing Mikel Arteta’s men by eight points. In the second half of the season, they overturned the deficit and eventually won by five points, becoming the second team after Manchester United to complete a three-peat in the Premier League.

Manchester City's Phil Foden (L) listens to Manchester City's Spanish manager Pep Guardiola during the UEFA Champions League Group B second leg match(AFP)
Manchester City's Phil Foden (L) listens to Manchester City's Spanish manager Pep Guardiola during the UEFA Champions League Group B second leg match(AFP)

A six-point gap may look daunting at present but City have been so dominant in the last few years that no matter by how many points they trail, they back themselves to beat the competition. In the 2021-22 season, they won the title on the last day as they miraculously came from 2 goals down to beat Aston Villa.

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There is no surprise that manager Pep Guardiola is undeterred by the recent results. Great men often tend not to show their confident side in public. Not Guardiola, he believes in his system and his team so much that he is 100% sure the Citizens are going to make history this season. "My feeling today is we're going to win the Premier League. If we play at the levels that we showed against Liverpool and Tottenham, we're going to win it again. People don't believe it already after three draws but we feel we're going to do it again, knowing that it is not easy because no team has done it yet. The difficulty is there and was last season but, if you ask me today what I'm feeling, we're going to do it again," the 52-year-old told the media on Tuesday ahead of their game against Villa.

Is Guardiola behaving like a boxer who in line with the nature of the sport never shows fear in the lead-up to a bout, even if on the all-important day he is dispatched within seconds? No, football is not boxing and that Guardiola has reasons to be super confident. He came over to the Etihad Stadium in 2016. In his seven completed seasons with the club, he has won the coveted trophy five times. His teams have pressed high to great effect. They continue to attack.

This season they have scored 36 goals, the highest in the league so far and most of the rival defences don’t have the wherewithal to contain them. Norwegian Erling Haaland looks unstoppable in the final third with 14 goals already under his belt. Argentine Julian Alvarez has proved to be a perfect foil for him. In defence, they are no less impressive, even though some might be tempted to call it as their weak link. There is no real weight to that argument. The fact is they are an attacking side in the main, so sometimes their defence can slacken -- but only sometimes. Arsenal and Liverpool – the two teams with whom they are effectively in the fray to win – have conceded 14 goals so far, two fewer than City which does not say much.

So Guardiola doesn't say things for the heck of it. He is a perfectionist. He knows he has got all the boxes ticked and there is no reason why he should sound cautious. The Spaniard, who achieved a three-peat with Barcelona as well as Bayern Munich, has never won four titles in a row, so from a personal point of view, a trophy this season becomes all the more important. Earlier this year after winning the Champions League which was a first for City, Guardiola had embroidered his expressions after the victory in Istanbul. "It was written in the stars. It belongs to us," he said. A fourth successive Premier League title also appears to be written in the stars, even at this stage when they look a bit uninspiring to fans and experts alike.

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