Manchester City has come a long way since their takeover by Sheikh Mansour in 2008:
From hiring Mark Hughes as Manager to Roberto Mancini and then Brian Kidd on an interim basis, then to Manuel Pellegrini and then now, Pep Guardiola.
Manchester City have practically been unstoppable over the past few years, the highlights being winning the Premier League title in the 2017-2018 and 2018-2019 seasons in emphatic fashion.
Getting to 100 points and scoring 106 goals during the 2017/2018 season was no mean feat – yes, we know that Liverpool almost matched/broke the points tally just two years after.
The 2018-2019 season was tougher as Manchester City only won the Premier League with a solitary point ahead of Liverpool.
The 2019-2020 season did them no favours as Liverpool walked away with the League title with 7 games to go, a record in the Premier League and one that Pep Guardiola and the Manchester City faithful would want expunged as quickly as possible.
Enter the 2020/2021 season and Manchester City look like a shadow of themselves.
Played five times in the Premier League, won twice, drawn twice and lost once, the only loss being a 5-2 hammering by Leicester City at the Etihad.
It is still early days but the simple truth is that Manchester City does not look like the team that intends to take back the Premier League title.
There could be a number of reasons for this:
The first could be that the lack of pre-season and rest between games is taking a toll on the players especially considering the fact that Manchester City is participating in the Champions League as well, meaning that there are mid-week games for the team. This may also be leading to poor fitness levels and even injury – see the injuries to Sergio Aguero and Kevin De Bruyne, two very key members of Pep Guardiola’s side.
The counter-argument to that is there are other teams that have the same issues as well. Although the current perspective is that the teams that do not have mid-week European engagements look sharper during the weekend games, which ultimately leads to a more exciting Premier League overall. Also, in terms of personnel, only David Silva and Vincent Kompany – who made 33 and 17 appearances respectively -have been the two major departures from the blue side of Manchester since the last time that they won the League two years ago. There have also been (inevitably) more quality additions as well.
In terms of injuries, it is a bit ironic that the talismanic Kevin De Bruyne played 19 games and less than a thousand minutes in the season that Manchester City last won the league in the season that Manchester City relinquished the league title to Liverpool by a record number of games left, he played 35 games in the English Premier league and was by far the League’s best player. There is also the curious case of Sergio Aguero, who has not been replaced – Gabriel Jesus is not an adequate replacement- and who seems to have a huge risk of getting injured after practically every game.
The second issue -and this may be more controversial- could be that this is probably the farthest that Pep Guardiola can take this Manchester City team to. The Champions League quarter-final loss to Olympique Lyonnais last season could have really dealt all associated with Manchester City a big blow as that was a huge chance for Pep Guardiola and Manchester City to at least move closer to achieving the holy grail of European football.
Pep Guardiola is yet to sign a new contract as his current one expires in June 2021. This is also already the longest time that Guardiola has spent in a single club. Let us see if he can (potentially) leave with one last hoorah.