Could Manchester City really accomplish the quadruple?

Photo of Guardiola, the Manchester City Coach

Manchester City, in the current week, is intensifying its quest for a historic quadruple, even though it’s only September, and the 2023-24 season has just begun, spanning just over a month. Under the guidance of Pep Guardiola, the team’s dominance has reached such heights that conversations about achieving previously unimaginable success have now become commonplace.

Since Guardiola’s arrival in the summer of 2016, Manchester City has consistently rewritten the record books, and they are likely to continue surpassing historical milestones before Guardiola’s tenure at the Etihad Stadium concludes.

The impact of this on the sport is a topic of debate. It’s worth noting that there may be questions about City’s achievements if the club is found guilty of 115 charges related to breaching the Premier League’s financial regulations (City vehemently denies these charges and asserts they possess “irrefutable evidence” of their innocence).

What remains unquestionable, however, is that Manchester City ranks among the greatest teams in the history of English football. Guardiola’s squad boasts such exceptional quality and depth that they appear capable of setting or breaking any record or milestone.

No English club has ever clinched four consecutive league titles, but City could become the first to achieve this feat in the current season, thereby eclipsing the accomplishments of legendary teams like Huddersfield, Arsenal, Liverpool, and Manchester United (on two occasions), all of which secured three consecutive titles.

Back in 2003-04, when Arsene Wenger’s “Invincibles” at Arsenal won the Premier League without a single loss, it seemed like an achievement that might never be replicated. However, City has already won all six of their league matches this season without even coming close to defeat, despite dealing with the absence of key players such as Kevin De Bruyne, John Stones, and Jack Grealish due to injuries for much of the campaign.

After becoming only the second English club to achieve a treble of Champions League, Premier League, and FA Cup victories last season (24 years after Manchester United achieved a similar feat in 1999), City is now aiming to secure the Carabao Cup, the one major trophy they missed out on in the 2022-23 season.

Newcastle United, City’s opponents in the Carabao Cup third round on Wednesday, might be one of the few teams capable of defeating City, especially at St James’ Park. Nevertheless, Guardiola’s side will enter the game as favorites, a status they enjoy in virtually every match they play. While other teams have had periods of dominance in the Premier League era, Manchester City has raised the bar to unprecedented levels.

Sir Alex Ferguson’s legendary United teams always had vulnerabilities and, at times, a tendency to falter even in their prime. For instance, five months after achieving a league and FA Cup double in 1996, they suffered three consecutive league defeats, including a 5-0 loss to Newcastle and a 6-3 loss to Southampton, before ultimately recovering to win the title that same season. Guardiola’s City, on the other hand, does not exhibit the same propensity for self-destruction.

Wenger’s “Invincibles” were an outstanding team, but they could not successfully defend their Premier League title. Jose Mourinho’s first two seasons at Chelsea yielded two consecutive league titles, yet he never managed to attain Champions League glory during his tenure at Stamford Bridge.

Guardiola has accomplished at Manchester City what Wenger and Mourinho couldn’t manage at Arsenal and Chelsea, respectively. The only factor that is likely to hinder Guardiola from surpassing Ferguson’s impressive record of 13 league titles (he currently has five) is Ferguson’s extraordinary 26-year tenure at Manchester United.

The formidable reality facing all teams this season, including strong contenders like Arsenal and Liverpool, is that Guardiola’s City continues to strengthen. With Erling Haaland now on their side, they possess arguably the most lethal striker ever seen in England. After setting a new Premier League record with 36 goals in a single season last year, the 23-year-old has already notched up eight goals in six games this season.

City is also exceptionally solid defensively, having conceded a mere three goals thus far while maintaining a flawless record. Sustaining such perfection throughout the season may prove challenging, even for Guardiola’s team.

However, given their strength and unwavering determination to secure every available trophy, it would not be surprising if they managed it. City has shattered numerous records, including the longest winning streak in all competitions (21 games in 2020-21), the longest winning run in the league (19 consecutive wins in 2017), the most consecutive away victories (20 in 2020-21), the most Premier League goals in a single season (106 in 2017-18), and the most points in a season (100 in 2017-18).

Their 6-0 FA Cup final triumph over Watford in 2019 equaled Bury’s historic record for the largest winning margin, which was set in 1903. Additionally, City became the first and only team to secure a domestic treble of the Premier League, Carabao Cup, and FA Cup.

To emphasize their dominance in European competition, City has maintained an unbeaten home record in the Champions League for 27 consecutive games, which is the longest such streak of any English team in the competition’s history. Their last defeat at the Etihad Stadium dates back to September 2018.

While Arsenal and Liverpool may harbor hopes of challenging City for the title this season, and Real Madrid and Bayern Munich may try to thwart Guardiola’s quest for consecutive Champions League victories, the only true obstacle in City’s path is themselves. Achieving the quadruple may seem like an impossible dream, but Guardiola has turned the seemingly unattainable into a plausible scenario at the Etihad.

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