Now that the incredible 2022-23 Premier League season has ended, Manchester City joins a previous class of only four teams to have won a league title in three consecutive seasons. With this in mind, we will highlight the critical moments for the Sky Blues and answer the question, has the Manchester City treble changed football?
Pre-season began like every other season for Manchester City and every other team across the globe, with speculation as to who would be joining the team and leaving to play elsewhere. Surprisingly, Manchester City opted to sell their second-choice striker, Gabriel Jesus, to Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal, who strived to win their first Premier League title since the iconic 2003-04 season. Granted, frequent headlines often feature within the press relating to injuries, although, on his day - Jesus can break the spines of most opposition teams. Although the business that transpired from Man City shook the football world as they acquired the services of Norwegian powerhouse Erling Haaland.
City’s final pre-season game occurred at Leicester City’s stadium, the King Power Stadium, for the Community Shield final against Liverpool. The game ultimately finished 3-1 in favour of the Reds. Although this did not make a dent in Pep Guardiola’s confidence going into the season, their first game of the league was a convincing 2-0 win against The Hammers, West Ham, thanks to two goals from Haaland, who made his Premier League debut.
This was merely a sign as to what was in store for the Premier League, as Haaland would go on to have one of the most dominant first seasons in the Premier League of all time - transpiring past the league and into other competitions, such as a brace in the opening Champions League fixture, which resulted in a 4-0 win for the Sky Blues and a brace for the Norwegian.
For a large part of the season, Mikel Arteta’s football philosophy was starting to pay off, as by the middle of January, following a hellacious start to the season - Arsenal fans were joyous as they were 8 points ahead of the previous season's winners, Manchester City.
This lead only continued, ultimately leading to an 11-point lead and a game in hand. Alas, the lack of experience in competing for a title as well as the age of the squad led to their downfall, as Pep’s clinical nature was able to catch up and eventually overtake Arsenal to win the league title for the third time in a row.
Manchester City ended the season with 89 points, a goal tally of a whopping 94, and only 33 conceded. In second place, Arsenal finished 5 points behind with 84 points, with Manchester United and Eddie Howe’s Newcastle United claiming the remaining two Champions League positions for the 2023-24 season.
Following a lacklustre season for Liverpool, they finished fifth, resulting in the Reds entering the Europa League with Brighton & Hove Albion and West Ham United (who won the UEFA Conference League).
Winning the Premier League for the third time in a row has only ever been achieved by four teams before:
Granted, no other team has won the league four seasons in a row. This fact will surely be at the forefront of Pep Guardiola’s mind as they have the chance to completely solidify themselves as a dynasty in English football. Especially as they were able to win the FA Cup and Champions League trophies - resulting in the Sky Blues becoming one of the most dominant treble-winning teams in the world.
Football fans often speculate about which treble-winning side is better between Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United and Pep Guardiola’s Man City. Whichever team you think is better, one thing is certain - the dominance of this Manchester City side will live long in football fans' memories for years to come.
The dominance of the Sky Blues from a domestic standpoint has often been met with speculation when compared with other treble-winning teams in the past. The main argument for sceptics was the fact that they had not won the Champions League before. Alas, following their 1-0 win against Inter Milan - this argument has now been voided.
Additionally, Manchester City have a habit of competing against records, as their FA Cup Manchester derby against Man Utd saw the Sky Blues go 1-0 after 12 seconds thanks to club captain, Ilkay Gundogan (who has a habit of scoring in the most important games). Bruno Fernandes was able to equalise in the 33rd minute after converting a penalty.
Although, Gundogan was able to bag his second goal in the second half, which resulted in Manchester City successfully obtaining a treble-winning season.
Whether you are a die-hard Manchester City fan or a neutral who loves to watch great football, one thing is not debatable - this style in which Manchester City play makes for the most entertaining football team to watch.
The debate needs to change from are they deserving of the title of a ‘dominant football team’ to ‘How enjoyable are they to watch’? or ‘how long can their style of play persist’? Regardless of these, for the moment at least, they are the greatest team in world football and are a joy to witness both on television and, more so, live at the Etihad Stadium.