Pep Guardiola’s latest feat would make history – not even Sir Alex Ferguson won four in a row

City are hoping to win the Premier League title for a fourth year in a row – a feat never before achieved

Richard Jolly
Senior Football Correspondent
Tuesday 14 May 2024 12:04 BST
Pep Guardiola is a closing in on a fourth successive Premier League
Pep Guardiola is a closing in on a fourth successive Premier League (Reuters)

Pep Guardiola can spend much of his season deflecting talk of potential achievements. The outside world discussed a potential treble last year long before the Manchester City manager did, and then his team turned it into a reality. Guardiola did not spend his time musing about a double treble this year. He has a tendency instead to talk up his rivals: one of them, Real Madrid, eliminated City from the Champions League. Another, Arsenal, still lead the Premier League in the final week of the season.

Yet now Guardiola has his eyes on a prize. Not merely the Premier League trophy, either, or the prospect of back-to-back domestic doubles. A manager who has won more in 15 seasons in the dugout than many a storied club has done in well over a century has certain standout feats. Ones that have eluded great teams and managers, ones he is confident will stand the test of time.

Last season’s treble of the Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League was only the second ever recorded, following Manchester United in 1999. City’s triple-figure campaign in 2017/18 – England’s first, and so far only, centurions in terms of top-flight points – was another rare accomplishment. A third could beckon. There have been hat-tricks by champions, sides winning the English title three years in a row, whether Huddersfield in the 1920s or United in the 2000s. No one has ever turned it into a quartet, finishing at the summit in four consecutive campaigns.

Manchester City became only the second English side to win a treble in 2023
Manchester City became only the second English side to win a treble in 2023 (PA)

Until now? Two wins would seal it. With the confidence of a man closing in on an ambition, Guardiola is willing to talk about it. “In the beginning of the season, no, we didn’t think about the four Premier Leagues,” he said. “Now we have something unique in front of our eyes. It has not happened in the Premier League ever and we have to do it this time. History is in front of us and we have to accept that we have not done it. It is the time to do it.”

Beat Tottenham on Tuesday and West Ham on Sunday and the joint record-holders – from the Huddersfield and Arsenal sides assembled by Herbert Chapman between the two world wars to two Manchester United teams led by Sir Alex Ferguson – will only have a share of second place. Two wins will do it.

“We know what we’re playing for,” added Guardiola. “So it’s a knockout, like a quarter-final or semi-final Champions League second leg or the FA Cup. Like it or not, we won’t get it back. It is simple. Win – OK; lose – bye, bye. It’s not much more complicated than that.”

Perhaps that is an attempt to motivate, to galvanise. If Guardiola has felt relaxed in the run-in – a demeanour that is helped when City score early so wins start to look a formality – an incentive is not just finishing ahead of Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal. That has been formed over the season and Guardiola is the import who studied English football’s history long before his arrival to see where and how he can outdo the legends of the past.

“If we are still there in February, March and April, if we can still do it, it ignites something in all our heads that says, ‘Guys, no team has done it’, that shows you hard it is,” he said. “Liverpool in the Eighties, Sir Alex Ferguson’s United in the Nineties, Chelsea with [owner Roman] Abramovich and Jose [Mourinho] and Arsenal with [Arsene] Wenger didn’t do it. So if it’s not been done, it’s difficult. It’s as simple as that….”

Pep Guardiola and Manchester City are only two wins away from making history again
Pep Guardiola and Manchester City are only two wins away from making history again (AP)

Or as difficult because, whenever City’s era of dominance ends – which could come with Guardiola’s eventual departure, or the Premier League’s 115 charges, or maybe even a setback or two this week – he doesn’t expect anyone else to emulate them, either.

For players such as Josko Gvardiol, Mateo Kovacic and Jeremy Doku, this would be a maiden Premier League. For long-serving figures such as Kevin de Bruyne, Kyle Walker, John Stones, Bernardo Silva and Ederson a half-dozen. “The older guys can win their sixth in seven years,” said Guardiola. “It’s not going to happen again.”

He rejected the idea that it is boring and went out of his way to rebuff suggestions that City are powered to glory by more money than anyone else, arguing that United and Chelsea have spent far more in recent seasons and, if that was the pivotal factor, should then have won all the titles themselves.

Instead, they tend to go to Guardiola. He is two wins away from joining George Ramsay and Bob Paisley in the group of managers who have won the English title six times, with only Ferguson ahead of them. And not even he did it four times in four seasons.

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