Can Guardiola carry Man City to the quadruple?
“Four titles is a utopia,” insisted Pep Guardiola after scolding Oleksandr Zinchenko for even raising the prospect that this season could finish with a Quadruple for Man City. “It never happened before and I think it’s never going to happen,” the Catalan coach said, playing down the comments of his own player.
Privately, though, Guardiola surely recognises the opportunity in front of him and his players. City are currently sitting 14 points clear at the top of the Premier League. They are in the quarter finals of the Champions League, where they will face Borussia Dortmund for a place in the final four, and have an FA Cup semi final against Chelsea and a Carabao Cup final against Tottenham Hotspur to look forward to.
City are favourites to win all four competitions. In their current form, it’s difficult to envisage anyone stopping them. While the Quadruple has been spoken about for years in near mythical terms due to it never before being achieved in English football, Guardiola’s side stand on the verge of changing that with Man City.
This would be the crowning achievement of Guardiola’s career as a manager. The thing that cements his place as the greatest coach of his generation and possible of all time. Ferguson led Manchester United to a famous Treble in 1999, but they still lost to Spurs in the fifth round of the Worthington Cup that season.
Of course, many point to Barcelona’s 2011 Champions League triumph as the crowning achievement of Guardiola’s managerial career and it’s certainly true that this will be what defines him once all is said and done. His Barca team was among the greatest to ever play the sport with their Champions League final triumph over Manchester United a demonstration of their brilliance.
2009 saw Barcelona win no fewer than six honours, but three of those trophies, the Club World Cup, European Super Cup and Spanish Supercopa, were rewards for success in other competitions. A Man City Quadruple would see Guardiola lift four pieces of silverware independent of each other.
Keep in mind that Guardiola was told upon taking over at City to expect a more challenging landscape in England than he had experienced in either Germany or Spain. A difficult first season in the Premier League, which saw the Etihad Stadium outfit finish third, backed up the notion that the Catalan would indeed find things tougher.
Since then, though, Guardiola has changed the landscape of the English game. Under his stewardship, Manchester City have set a new standard at the top of the Premier League and while it took them some time to get going this season, their form since the start of December has left everyone else in their dust.
Guardiola was told to evolve his City team after last season’s underwhelming title defence. Most expected an overhaul in the transfer market, but while City did spend significant sums on the signing of Ruben Dias, Nathan Ake and Ferran Torres, Guardiola has squeezed more out of the players he already had.
Ilkay Gundogan, Joao Cancelo, Phil Foden, Bernardo Silva and Raheem Sterling have all been deployed in new and interesting ways this season, with the purpose of changing Manchester City’s approach as a team. Not even in the ‘Centurion’ season of 2017/18 were Guardiola’s side as difficult to play against as they are now.
The Champions League remains City’s biggest focus this season. This is their best chance yet to go all the way in Europe with the field weaker than it has been in a number of years. But an even greater prize is within touching distance for Guardiola and his players. A Quadruple would be the starkest sign of the Catalan’s brilliance and would surely be the greatest achievement in English football history, let alone that of Man City.
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