April 16 – It was only a matter of time but few, even among their own players and fans, expected Manchester City to be crowned English Premier League champions without even playing on Sunday.
Manchester United’s shock home defeat by bottom club West Brom ensured City won their third league title in seven seasons and their first under Pep Guardiola.
Guardiola was so convinced that the inevitable foregone conclusion would not be settled until the game against Swansea next weekend that he was out on the golf course. After all, West Brom had lost eight of their previous nine games and last won on January 13.
The Swansea game will now be a celebration of one of the Premier League’s finest ever teams who won the title with five games to spare equalling the feat achieved by United (1907-08 and 2000-01) and Everton (1984-85).
Guardiola, who failed to land a trophy in his first season in charge at The Etihad, won the League Cup in February against Arsenal but this was the one that really mattered, City’s first title since 2013-14. He may have won three as manager of Barcelona and three more at Bayern Munich but this, he always said, was the hardest domestic title of them all despite City’s unlimited financial resources courtesy of their Abu Dhabi owners.
Money doesn’t always buy success and it was City’s mesmerizing brand of football that won so many plaudits, losing only two of 33 games – so far at least – and scoring 93 goals in the process.
Guardiola will have been massively disappointed that City exited the Champions League in the quarterfinals but after their 3-1 win over Tottenham on Saturday he made it clear where his priorities always lay.
“It’s more difficult to win in England because of the physicality, the weather conditions, the amount of games,” he said. “The Premier League is so, so tough. Winning titles in every league is important, with Barcelona was special. But the Premier League is one of the nicest and most important.”
“We did it in the way we wanted to do. We have spent a lot of money to have these amazing players, to make that possible. These players deserve all my respect because they have been unbelievable all season.”
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