Thursday, 18 April

Man City 'two games away from immortality'

Sports News
Pep Guardiola

Manchester City are "two games away from immortality" after securing a third successive Premier League title, according to former England captain Alan Shearer.

Arsenal's 1-0 defeat by Nottingham Forest on Saturday means City are champions for a fifth time in six years and now have the chance to win an historic Treble.

 

Pep Guardiola's side play Manchester United in the FA Cup final on 3 June, before facing Inter Milan a week later in Istanbul, where they will seek their first Champions League triumph.

"They will be talked about for years to come if they can get the Treble," Shearer said.

"It's remarkable, what an opportunity for them. They are two games away from immortality."

Manchester United were the last side to win five Premier League titles in six seasons, between 1996 and 2001 - including the Treble of league, FA Cup and Champions League in 1999.

United also won seven titles in nine seasons between 1993-2001, as well as five titles in seven seasons between 2007-2013. Before that, Liverpool in the late 1970s and early '80s enjoyed similar spells of consecutive league titles.

 

'There is no weakness'

Former City keeper Shay Given believes Guardiola's current side are stronger than ever.

"They are incredible," Given said. "There are even unsung heroes like John Stones, be it at right-back, centre-back or in midfield.

"At times against Real Madrid in midweek he was the spare man on the edge of the box. He was signed as a centre-half and he is playing a key role in this team.

"I can't see a weakness. De Bruyne, Bernardo Silva, Mahrez. There are star men all over the pitch."

Striker Erling Haaland's remarkable haul of 52 goals in 48 games in all competitions - including a record-breaking 36 goals in 33 league appearances - has added even more cutting edge to the side.

Shearer believes the former Borussia Dortmund forward can unlock City's maiden Champions League win.

"The reason Erling Haaland was bought was to put City in this position," Shearer said.

"They've got one trophy in the bag, and they've got two other finals. He was brought in to win them the Champions League, he lives for goals, that is what his life is about.

"I love his attitude, you can tell that he is so hungry, and how much a goal means to him, and I admire that so much."

Best Premier League side ever?

City could yet win the Premier League by 13 points after powering clear following a classic duel with Arsenal and will start as favourites in both remaining cup finals.

Where they rank in history remains up for debate but former Premier League striker Glenn Murray believes they are a better team than Sir Alex Ferguson's 1999 Treble winners.

"Yes they are better," Murray said. "And I say that reluctantly as I was United fan as a kid - I looked up to that generation and it seems that feat would never be repeated.

"But this City team are deadly. They beat people and move on. They are an emotionless winning machine. Nothing bothers them.

"Do we have them as one of the top club sides ever? If they add this Champions League and possibly this Treble then they are in the debate alongside the likes of Pep's Barcelona."

Premier League charges still to be resolved

City were charged in February by the Premier League with more than 100 breaches of its financial rules following a four-year investigation.

The charges cover the period of 2009-2018, since the 2008 takeover by the Abu Dhabi United Group, led by billionaire Sheikh Mansour, a member of the Abu Dhabi royal family.

They are accused of effectively falsifying their accounts and artificially inflating sponsorship and commercial deals over a number of years to allow them to spend more but stay within Uefa and Premier League rules.

City said they were "surprised by the charges" but welcomed the "review of this matter by an independent commission to impartially consider" their case, which the club said was supported by a "comprehensive body of irrefutable evidence".

City, who have always denied financial wrongdoing, said they "look forward to this matter being put to rest once and for all".

The club has been referred to an independent commission, which can impose punishments ranging from a fine and points deduction to expulsion from the Premier League. It is not known how long the process will take.

Source: BBC