Can Manchester City Get Over The Champions League Hump?
Updated: May 29, 2019
Manchester City has been getting better and better each year and clearly growing into the dominant force that we now see today. Their talent level is simply off the charts at this point and as summer approaches they will likely look to offload dead weight and add to an already talented bunch. With each year that Pep Guardiola gets under his belt in the English Premiership and with each year that his players gain the necessary experience in Europe...it can be surmised or prognosticated that the natural trajectory for this side is coming to its apex. That apex being a spot in the Champions League finals. Of course many would say easier said than done and I get that...but one who follows the beautiful game cannot deny that this club is inching ever closer to the ultimate goal.
As a Manchester United fan we are programmed to loathe Man City. However as a lover of football it is hard not to appreciate their style of play and hope that United can one day return to the free flowing football we used to play, that Pep has instilled with his City side. As a Manchester United fan, watching Man City is like watching your younger brother grow his skill level and abilities higher and better than yours and it is altogether frustrating. When United hired Mourinho and City hired Pep it was a complete let down because anyone who has followed these two coaches careers would know that their style of play vastly differs with Pep teams playing more free flowing football and Mourinho teams playing the most boring defensive football the world has ever seen.
When one looks at a Man City side who finished with a whopping 98 points they have to wonder how can this team get better? This is 2 points off the best finish in Premiership history. Let's start with DeBruyne who spent most of the season injured. One might argue that he is one of the top 5 players in the entire league. As a matter of comparison DeBruyne only had 19 appearances last season compared to the previous season where he played in 37 Premiership matches. With this drop in utility by arguably the best passer in the league how was it possible that this side was able to continue its dominance? The answer may be that the style of play instilled or the system installed by Pep can allow for most players to thrive....but that said, the players that currently occupy the light blue shirts are simply great and growing footballers.
Next up in the discussion has to be Sterling. Raheem Sterling perhaps has grown the most under Pep. This man has gone from a speedy hard to deal with footballer to consistent dominant scorer who is almost impossible to deal with. In the 2017/18 season he scored 18 goals in the Premiership and and in 2018/19 he remained dominant and scored 17 Premiership goals. In this league this type of consistency is difficult to come by and he plays alongside Aguero who has scored 21 goals in each of the last two seasons. In other words this team is stacked with talent all chomping at the bit to score goals.
It will be interesting to see where Pep takes this team next season. There are whispers that Sane is on his way out which would be an interesting scenario. Sane is one of the most talented young footballers on the planet. He matches speed, direct play with touch and goal scoring ability, yet for some reason he cannot solidify a spot for club or country. Media outlets and pundits offer that perhaps he has a bad attitude, but the point is that when you have a side that is able to do away with players like Leroy Sane you know you are dealing with a footballing side that is reaching it peak and is perhaps ready to be kings of Europe!