If there are any Mavericks/Liverpool fans out there, we have our hearts out for you (though the Mavs are nearly untouchable at home, so there might still be some salvation for them). Both of those teams were or are being asked to stand in front of a bus with no brakes and have a duty to stop. There is simply no force in sport today quite like when Manchester City or the Golden State Warriors began. The place where the Warriors landed has yet to be determined. Today Man City won the Premier League title.
A popular mockery of Man City, one that is inevitably rooted in jealousy, bitterness, and a desperation to find anything to beat with the world’s newest perfect football machine (and the maybe finally coached by Pep Guardiola), that Man City is boring because their goals all look the same. There are around 12,000 clubs around the globe that want to score 100 goals a season that look the same, but when you need to throw stones, you’re throwing them at any perceived weakness.
You know what it looks like. A steady series of passes in the opponent’s half, followed by a run and pass to a player moving towards the touchline just inside the penalty area, a six-yard drop back to the edge of the box or over it, touch. It’s controllable, automatic, and inevitable. While that was predictable, the fact that Guardiola was able to engineer this level of control and precision into a team, regardless of the capital behind it, is still astounding. And even if you stop that method, and very few people do, they’ll drag it back to the edge of the area for someone to pass it in from 20 yards away.
Of course, complaining about boredom or repetition is absurd, because what is even more impressive is that almost all of Man City’s opponents know what is coming, but are powerless to do so. solve that problem. They will get tired, they will slip in a second, just one mistake, and City’s always vigilant attack will open the door and turn it into a big wound. And once the blood starts to flow, the tourniquet will not be found.
Maybe, like me, if you wear a red (or yellow as it may be the case) shirt, you’ve allowed yourself some time – when Man City lead 2-0 and Liverpool need just one goal to score something really exciting – to hope. It can even be expected, if you really let go of your senses. But City in the league is not City in Europe, which makes for a confusing coincidence. In the league, they know they’ll find a way. In Europe, they know they won’t.
So when this happens…
You know what’s to come. You may have thought, as I did, “Here it is.”
Because it’s always been like that. Give City some ropes, they’ll take them all. There’s a green wave and you feel like they have about 16 players on the pitch. They don’t just create one chance after another as much as goal after goal. It eats by itself. Even with all that emotion and fury, their precision is still something to behold. Rodri’s finish here couldn’t be better:
Have other City goal. Basically, force the opponent to line up along the goal line to prevent normal assist and leave space for a shot from outside the box. This is still the moment when it all passes for City, and they are perfect to prevent it from doing so.
In some ways, it’s nice that they didn’t pull it out. It only took five minutes to grab it in the most violent way possible. It’s a omitted conclusion that they’ll get a third one, so you might as well continue with it:
Again, there’s hardly a crack here at first. After Tyrone Mings cleared the ball initially, Douglas Luiz too slow response in just a fraction of a second. But not Kevin De Bruyne, and with that inch, the whole house fell into disrepair. Nothing prevents this. It might feel great to complain that it’s all predictable, but who can do about that? Even Liverpool, the second most solid defense in Europe after… Man City, could never hold them back under two goals.
It feels like everyone knows that too. City were not particularly threatening before Villa made it 2-0, with some chances here and there but hardly a ferocious attack. And as soon as the first one started you can see the entire Villa team has resigned. “We can also be practice dummies,” was the obvious feeling. It just washed away teams, at least in the league, because it was so strong, and because most teams accepted that it was going to happen. There is definitely an aura at work.
So it’s City’s fourth title in five years under Guardiola. Once again, the knives that spend money and its origins are sharpened and thrown away. While the City’s sporting side will never go away, nor should it, not everyone can take a bottomless well of money and turn it into this worldly endless tsunami. Roberto Mancini had a shot, he won the title once. Manuel Pellegrini got his turn, he won the tournament once. Each has wins, but none of them can make it back to a Liverpool team that is amassing more than 90 points having finished in second place twice. You still have to do all that makes City different, and Guardiola does.
It seemed too automatic, or efficient, or lacking in vibration. We should all be so lucky.