Guardiola proud of Manchester City's Premier League dominance

With Manchester City on the brink of a fourth title in five seasons, Pep Guardiola roars: ‘They said nobody could dominate like Sir Alex Ferguson, look at us now!’

  • Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City are close to winning four titles in five seasons 
  • Guardiola recalls he was told only Sir Alex Ferguson could dominate like this  
  • City boss is eager not to put too much pressure on Erling Haaland next season 

Beat Aston Villa on Sunday and Pep Guardiola will secure his 10th championship from the 13 seasons he has been a manager with Barcelona, Bayern Munich and now Manchester City.

In two of the other campaigns he has been runner-up. The outlier was his first season at the Etihad in 2016/17 when he finished third.

Rarely prone to self-congratulation, one senses Guardiola is proud of finding himself on the verge of a fourth Premier League title in five seasons, the most dominant run in our game since Sir Alex Ferguson and Manchester United more than a decade ago.

Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City are on the verge of a fourth league title in five seasons

Ahead of the decisive final day with Liverpool only a point behind, the 51-year-old remembers only too well the sceptics that said he would not be able to have the same grip on English football as he had done in Spain or Germany. Those doubts only increased after his first season, when City failed to win a trophy and finished 15 points behind champions Chelsea.

Guardiola’s teething troubles included signing a ball-playing goalkeeper Claudio Bravo who could not save shots, persuading superstars Sergio Aguero and Kevin De Bruyne that they had to run and press and struggling to get his full-backs to push up high.

Now they are 90 minutes away from another Premier League title that would take Guardiola ahead of three-time winners Jose Mourinho and Arsene Wenger, leaving only Ferguson ahead. He won 13 at United but it has to be remembered he was 20 years older than Guardiola is now when he retired. United were the last team to win four in five between 2007 and 2011.

Guardiola recalls he was told only Sir Alex Ferguson could win a lot of Premier League titles

‘When I arrived, the people here said the Premier League is so difficult, it is the toughest one,’ says Guardiola. ‘Different teams would win, only Sir Alex Ferguson with United was able to take a lot of championships. When it happened you realised the magnitude of their achievement but now we are close to doing it, being part of that and we have to try to take it.

‘A lot of work went on the first season when we didn’t win. Of course it is great to be in the position we are now. It would be great to be champions again but we are here as a consequence of what happened in the past.’

This is the third time City and Liverpool have gone into the final day with both clubs able to end it as champions. It is a rivalry for the ages and shows no signs of stopping any time soon, particularly with Jurgen Klopp having signed a new contract at Liverpool, who are chasing the Quadruple.

To that end, Guardiola has already strengthened his hand for next season, signing the world’s most sought-after goalscorer Erling Haaland from Borussia Dortmund.

Guardiola doesn’t want to put pressure on Erling Haaland ahead of his move to City

Haaland is a powerhouse, unlike anything City have in their squad. It suggests there could be another change of emphasis from Guardiola in the future, though he is keen not to put pressure on the Norwegian to be an instant success, particularly following the awkward first year for last year’s record signing, Jack Grealish.

‘I hear he’s not going to adapt to the way we play but I’d like to ask those people: “How will we play?” because I’m pretty sure they don’t know. I’m pretty sure he [Haaland] scores his amount of goals because he’s good but it’s important to realise he is arriving in a new country, he has to adjust. If it takes weeks, great. If it takes months, great. He has come for many years I hope. If he needs more time, give him more time. We try to help him and I’ m pretty sure he’ll try to help us, so I don’t have any doubts.’

City’s insatiable appetite for success would not be dampened by winning another title

One thing looks certain — City’s insatiable appetite for success will not be dampened by winning another title. Ferguson would look into the eyes of his players every pre-season to see if they wanted to make the sacrifices to go again. Those that did not were not selected. ‘If we have had this energy this season, why should we not have it next season,’ says Guardiola. ‘The competition makes this energy.

‘If the new season was starting tomorrow I’d say, “Oh no, please, give me a break”. But the moment we start pre-season, new players and a first opponent, I’m sure the energy will be there again for us to try and be a good competitor.’

Guardiola was a champion three times at Barcelona and Bayern, but four at City would feel like his greatest achievement, because few felt he would be able to impose a Ferguson-style grip on the Premier League.

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