Man City make case to be ranked as England's greatest-ever team

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Man City make case to be ranked as England's greatest-ever team

Manchester City players lift the Premier League trophy
Manchester City players lift the Premier League trophyAFP
Manchester City strengthened their case to be ranked as English football's greatest-ever team by winning the Premier League title for an unprecedented fourth consecutive year on Sunday.

No side has ever enjoyed the stranglehold over the English top flight that City have held during Pep Guardiola's glorious reign as manager.

On top of six Premier League titles, in the past seven years City have been crowned world and European champions for the first time in the club's history, won two FA Cups and lifted four League Cups.

Another FA Cup triumph could come next weekend when they are favourites to beat Manchester United in the Wembley showpiece for the second straight season.

Dominance over United is especially sweet for generations of City fans who had to live in the shadow of their neighbours.

Last season, Guardiola's men became only the second club to win the Premier League, Champions League and FA Cup in the same season -- matching United's vintage group of 1998/99.

That was part of a run of seven Premier League titles in nine years for United under Alex Ferguson.

Liverpool's domination in the 1970s and 1980s included 10 league titles in 15 seasons and four European Cups.

Arsenal went through the entire 2003/04 league season without defeat as Arsene Wenger's title-winning "Invincibles" staked their claim to be regarded as the best ever.

Yet the scale of City's command over their rivals, despite the depth of resources in the world's richest league, has surpassed even the feats achieved by United, Liverpool and Arsenal in their glory years.

City are on a 35-match unbeaten run in all competitions from open play, setting a record in the Premier League era.

Their 3-1 victory over West Ham to seal the title on Sunday took the champions past 90 points for the fourth time in seven seasons - a mark United only managed twice in Ferguson's entire Old Trafford reign in a 38-game season.

"I think to win the Premier League four times, no team has ever done it before, so to do it means we are up there," said City midfielder Phil Foden on the debate over which side is England's greatest.

In past seasons, City have been pushed hard by Liverpool, who interrupted their dynastic spell by winning the 2019/20 title, while Arsenal finished just two points behind the champions this season.

Relentless City

Liverpool racked up 97 points in 2018/19 and 92 points two years ago but still missed out on the title due to City's relentlessness.

This time a club-record 28 wins in a season and 89 points was not enough for Arsenal's first title in 20 years.

"In the beginning of the season, we didn't think about it," said Guardiola, speaking last week about the possibility of winning four in a row.

"But then we were in February, March and April, we were still there (in the title race). After that, it ignites something in all our heads.

"No team has done it. That shows how hard it is. Liverpool in the 1980s, Alex Ferguson's United in the 1990s. Chelsea with (Roman) Abramovich and Jose (Mourinho), Arsenal with (Arsene) Wenger didn't do it."

City have been showered with praise for their performances on the pitch, but the plaudits come with caveats.

In a Premier League season in which Everton and Nottingham Forest were docked points for breaches of financial rules, a case against City over 115 charges has rumbled on for 15 months without resolution.

City strongly deny any wrongdoing, but face accusations of failing to provide accurate financial information between 2009 and 2018 and not cooperating with the Premier League's investigation.

The source of the club's wealth since a takeover by Abu Dhabi's Sheikh Mansour, which transformed City's fortunes on and off the pitch, has also dampened the enthusiasm of many for their astonishing success.

"I don't know," said Guardiola on whether his side get the credit they deserve for their historic feats. "We know how good we have been."

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