It’s almost considered blasphemy to even think about speaking ill of Guardiola and his Man City team, but perhaps the praise has gone too far. Now, I’m not suggesting that they aren’t a fantastic team, but to compare them to teams like the Invincibles or United’s treble winning team after 8 months of dominance is, quite frankly, absurd.
In any sport what makes any team or individual the best is their longevity, you look at athletes like Federer, or Bolt, or Phelps, the Patriots, all these have been dominant for years and years, won countless silverware and in some ways, defined an era. It’s funny how opinions in football fluctuate, only last season had Conte also “revolutionised” football with his back 5 and they were one of the greatest teams ever, now look at them.
Whilst this current City ilk are certainly easy on the eye, this is no justification as to being labelled by many as the best ever. Tottenham have played some wonderful football under Pochettino, Napoli at full flow are a joy to behold but neither are considered great because they haven’t got any silverware – and arguably rightly so, but when it comes to Man City this is irrelevant.
They play good football in a league where the average standard is vastly deteriorating it should not be seen as an amazing feat to have beaten all the teams they have, even in the top 6, if you read the papers, United, Chelsea and Arsenal are all poor, so the only real test they’ve faced this year are Tottenham and Liverpool. The 5-0 drubbing of Liverpool at the Etihad although impressive, was against a Liverpool team not renowned for the defensive capabilities going a man down mid-way through the first half. The subsequent reverse fixture saw Man City torn apart defensively, then came the Champions League draw. I will freely admit that I believed the hype, I thought the 4-3 Liverpool win was just one of those days, I thought City would come out all guns blazing and get a comfortable away win. It was the complete opposite, Liverpool were like a 5-year old at Christmas just tearing City’s defence apart time after time, the second half was different but the greatest team that England has ever witnessed failed to even muster a single shot on target. You can hardly say they’ve been pushed this season. No-one tries to claim Celtic are fantastic despite their domestic dominance because people say they play in a poor league, so why is it different with City this year?
Moving onto last weekend, 2-0 up and cruising against United then utter capitulation, all season City have hardly had to defend, as has been the nature with most sides against the top 6 this year they’ve just sat back. Not that I see this as a negative, teams should play to their strengths and the likes of Swansea and Everton don’t have the personnel or coach that are going to be able to do to City what Liverpool have done. But the times that teams have had a go at City, they haven’t known what to do. No doubt the cheque-book will be out in summer to try and rectify these defensive frailties, but a defence that shaky cannot even come close to being compared with the likes of the Invincibles. A fantastic half of a team can’t form the best team of all time.
They look like they’re on course to set the record point tally for single season, currently stood at 95 which was Mourinho’s 2004/05 Chelsea team which could go some way to validating the claim they are the best ever but if anything, it could say the opposite. It shows they’ve had the best season in the Premier League, but that’s a stark contrast with being the best team ever. Although it’s unlikely considering the financial backing they have, but what if they were to take a dip in form next season and finish second with significantly fewer points than this year, would they still be considered the greatest team ever or would the judgement of them be more reasonable? To reiterate, an 8-month period of wonder cannot culminate in the title they’ve been given, this Man City team have to, at the bare minimum, win another 1 or 2 league titles among other trophies to be considered the best ever. To make some sort of a comparison it would be like suggesting Salah is the best player in premier league history, he’s having a phenomenal season and is on his way to breaking records left, right, and centre, but it’s one season and that’s it.
When I tell my kids and grandchildren about the 2017/18 Man City, greatest Premier League team ever, their eyes will fill with amazement as I reminisce how they marauded through a fantastic league, conquered Europe, lifted a magnificent FA Cup and how could I forget, the prestigious Carabao Cup. Then I’ll remember, they got unceremoniously eliminated in the quarter-finals of the Champions League, lost to Wigan in the FA Cup, and last season the Carabao Cup was worth as much as a certificate for participation when United lifted it. To even contemplate comparing these achievements with United’s ’99 team is like chalk and cheese.
It’s like when Mourinho first made his way to England, he raised the bar and others had to step up to compete, so who knows, perhaps this City team is a blessing in disguise for the league, a level for all to strive to reach after two seasons of fairly disappointing champions. As amazing as Leicester’s victory was, it looks as if 3 teams are going to surpass their points tally this season. Whilst this may all seem very negative I do appreciate how good City have been this season, and no doubt they have the potential to go to be one of the greatest Premier League teams. But the suggestion that they are there already is dumbfounded and does not sit well with me.
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