Until Pep Guardiola exits, the Premier League remains to be a challenge
PREMIER LEAGUE

Until Pep Guardiola exits, the Premier League remains to be a challenge

Until Pep Guardiola exits, the Premier League remains to be a challenge

With 94 points and seven consecutive Premier League victories, Manchester City still has a chance to claim their fifth league championship in six years. Once, 90 appeared a threshold of unfeasible brilliance, attained by teams of such rare vintage as Arsenal’s 2004 Invincibles and the architects of Manchester United’s 2009 “three-peat”.
Since Pep Guardiola’s second season at City, however, three of four victories have been secured with 100, 98, and 93 points. They have made ridiculously remarkable levels appear mundane.

It is enticing to assert that City’s ruthless brilliance is harmful to the Premier League. Except when United won five consecutive games from 1996 to 2001 as part of a larger winning streak of 13 in 21. On the contrary, a torrent of adulation swept Alex Ferguson to a knighthood 14 years before he ultimately retired. So, is there a possibility of double standards? And, if so, is it because City, falling outside that coterie of so-called “legacy clubs”, are seen as too minted, too corporate, too acquisitive to deserve any broader affection?

This is the stereotype associated with Paris Saint-Germain. They were founded in 1970, and prior to the Qatari acquisition in 2011, they had won only two French titles. Given that? Eight in ten years, a record their owners are so desperate to maintain that we are now witnessing the absurd spectacle of Neymar, Kylian Mbappé, and Lionel Messi confronting Strasbourg or Brest.

Ligue 1 has become known as the “Farmers’ League,” with PSG portrayed as a vampire enterprise that devours the impoverished country cousins.

The same accusations are gradually leveled against City. Forbes stated in a recent profile of Erling Haaland that the Norwegian’s prodigious scoring was transforming the Premier League into a farmers’ league. The power surge in the city is not merely a matter of perception. Since Chelsea last won the division in 2017, they have not been within 15 points of them. Based on the lopsidedness of City’s 4-1 victory over Arsenal this week, their dominance is likely to grow even more overwhelming.

At least Arsenal and Liverpool deserve credit for stopping a speeding train. And yet, even Liverpool’s finest accomplishments have not always been enough: just as Jurgen Klopp’s squad completed the 2019 season with nine consecutive victories, City won by a single point with 14 consecutive victories. Similarly, Arsenal is learning the hard way that history is written by the victorious.

Having led the race by as many as eight points this season, Arsenal now risks being overtaken by City on the final stretch. They are a dazzling young team, but it appears that their destiny is to serve as mere decorations for the latest sky-blue parade.

We are still a long way from a predetermined Bundesliga, but Borussia Dortmund is giving Bayern Munich a run for their money this season if they wish to win their eleventh consecutive championship.

With the exception of one close match with Dortmund in 2019, consider the points differential between the first and second place teams during this time: 25, 14, 10, 10, 15, 21, 13, 13, 12. It is a patently absurd monopoly, sustained by Bayern’s habit of acquiring whoever among their ostensible adversaries catches their eye.

Cities are infrequently culpable of such ritual plundering. The sophistication of their recruitment is such that they spend years assuring they are at the front of the line for Haaland.

At the age of 27, Manuel Akanji is seamlessly integrated into the starting eleven.

All of this is made possible by the immense sovereign wealth of Abu Dhabi, which enables them to afford costly missteps like Danilo, who was purchased for £26 million in 2017 as a replacement right-back and then released after two years and 34 appearances.

In contrast to Bayern, however, their dynasty has not been based on raiding the competition.

If City manages to pry Jude Bellingham away from Dortmund this summer, it could be terrifying.

They have supplanted Real Madrid as the preferred destination for these generational talents, and it is all due to Guardiola, the man who attracts and develops the finest players.

The fundamentals of Guardiola’s career are astounding. In 11 of his 14 seasons as a manager, he will have won a league title if he guides City to victory next month.

Guardiola, with his penchant for living on the brink, epitomizes the relentless pursuit of excellence.

He will be the first to admit that he has benefited from a galaxy of superstars at Barcelona, Bayern, and now City, but he is the personification of the relentless pursuit of excellence. Guardiola provides City with the passion that PSG, those other plutocratic toys, so glaringly lack.

What occurs when he departs? Does the complete structure begin to fall apart? City can hardly stand to consider the possibility.

Under the guidance of their insatiable coach, they are currently content with making the ridiculous seem commonplace.

Until Pep Guardiola exits, the Premier League remains to be a challenge