Can anybody stop Manchester City?

Image credit: CGTN
Image credit: CGTN

It’s fair to say that right now, things are looking ominous for Manchester City’s opponents. The Cityzens overturned a significant deficit against a much-improved Arsenal side to claim what was seen as an unlikely title win earlier in the season.

Man City are now two wins away from achieving an unprecedented treble, their second under Pep Guardiola. This one would be far more significant than the others, though, as it would include the club’s first UEFA Champions League title.

Pessimists will already be resigned to Manchester City winning both the FA Cup and Champions League final in the coming weeks, but the question now is who can stop Man City? The sky’s seemingly the limit for the Sky Blues, but can are there any likely challengers to the side from the Etihad Stadium?

Nothing lasts forever

Like life itself, football isn’t a constant, situations are always in flux and are ever-changing. If you wind the clock back to the 1980s, Liverpool were sweeping all before them as they powered to six top division titles between 1982 and 1990. That’s a strike rate of six in nine seasons.

Similarly, Manchester United have also had dominant periods at the start of the Premier League era. Sir Alex Ferguson’s side were victorious in seven of the first nine Premier League seasons with only Arsenal and Blackburn Rovers managing to best the Red Devils during this time.

Imaged Credit: Premier League

These periods of one team being on top if nothing new in English football. Over the past five decades, a single side has been on top more often than not. In the 1970s and 80s, it was Liverpool, in the 90s and 2000s, it was United and through most of the 2010s and up to now, it is City.

However, this feels different because of the level of investment that has cemented Manchester City as one of, if not the richest club in football. It’s often said that City’s second side, if entered into the Premier League, would finish in the top four and most football fans would agree with that statement.

Add in an Etihad Stadium that continues to be expanded and improved and a world-class academy and training facilities and nobody can accuse this of being a flash in the pan.

Despite all of this though, if you were to ask a Liverpool or Manchester United fan towards the end of the dominant spells if the good times would stop anytime soon they’d probably have confidently said “no”. Although, with the benefit of hindsight, they’d have been proven wrong.

City could be the only ones who can stop themselves

Looking at the competition, it’s difficult to see who could be the next side not called “Manchester City” to win the Premier League. Some would argue that Liverpool are the most likely candidate, as they’re the only side who has prevented City from winning six in a row.

The Reds have also finished as runners-up twice during this time, but a dissapointing 2022-23 season and an aging squad means that Jurgen Klopp has serious work to do to catch up.

Image credit: Planet Football

Manchester United are the only club to prevent City from a potential quadruple by winning the League Cup this season. They’re looking resurgent under Erik ten Hag and can beat anybody on their day, but uncertainty around their ownership needs to be resolved first.

A case could be made for Newcastle United who are ahead of schedule after qualifying for the Champions League this season. There is a way for the Magpies to go to be challenging for league titles, but with their new Saudi owners, they could surprise a few.

Guardiola’s former Assistant Manager Mikel Arteta is building a very impressive squad that will improve in the coming years and we could see them claiming silverware again soon. Chelsea look more likely to regress under Todd Boehly than improve their position.

Spurs? No chance.

City could be the only ones who can stop themselves

Manchester City’s biggest challenge, though, could be from within as Guardiola could leave after this season. Pep was brought to the Etihad to win City the one trophy that they wanted more than any other; the Champions League.

If Man City beat Inter Milan in Istanbul to complete a treble (or even a League-Champions League double), the Catalan will depart Manchester City an undeniable legend of both the club and the Premier League.

Image credit: Football365

It’s not a matter of prestige or money for Pep, he’s set for life and has won more trophies in European football than almost all managers throughout history. It’s the challenge aspect for Pep at this point in his career and if he brings the Champions League to Man City this season, the challenge will have been completed.

He may take a year or two out of the game like he did when he left Barcelona, as being this fixated on his job for so long will mean he needs to mentally recover. Where will his next challenge be? Who knows? But only one of the other European Superclubs could afford his rumoured £20m per year salary.

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