Admiration for Manchester City’s manager, Pep Guardiola, is now sky-high as the 50-year old Spaniard nimbly leads his team through a spectacular season that could see them winning the Quadruple – Champions League, Premier League, FA Cup and the League Cup. Bookies are getting anxious about the escalating betting in the market for the quadruple win and the odds are diminishing rapidly. If you fancy a flutter, Skybet are still in the market with odds of 8/1 currently available.
Last season, City were also tipped for the quadruple but it didn’t happen for them with the Blues only (only!) winning the Premier League and the League Cup. Guardiola had been cautious at the time, believing that getting the quadruple was next to impossible. He said “Why should you (talk about) the quadruple when in this country – a legendary country – it has never happened before. Legendary teams like Liverpool, the period with Sir Alex Ferguson, Jose Mourinho and Chelsea, Arsene Wenger with Arsenal – no-one did it. So why should we do it”. In fact, the nearest an English club has come was back in the 1998-99 season when Manchester United won the treble of Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League. In 2019, City achieved a domestic treble, still a notable achievement, by winning the Premier League, FA Cup and League Cup but were knocked out of the Champions League Quarter-Final stage by Tottenham Hotspur.
Fans are hoping that Manchester City can win the Champions League this year but the record so far is not encouraging with City having only reached the Semi-Finals once, in the 2015/16 season, when they were beaten by Real Madrid. Last year, they were knocked out by Lyon in the quarter-final stage but, this year, with “probably the best team in Europe just now” (David Moyes, West Ham manager) can Guardiola achieve a third Champions League title in his illustrious managerial career, having lifted the trophy with Barcelona in 2008/09 and then again in 2010/11?
City are currently 2-0 up on aggregate, in the last-16 stage, and the second match against German team Monchengladbach which will take place tomorrow is unlikely to produce an upset. The draw for the Quarter-Finals will take place this Friday, 18 March. Nothing is completely certain in football, but Manchester City are strong favourites to win the Champions League at the Ataturk Stadium in Istanbul on 29 May, with odds of 11/5 from Irish bookmaker Paddy Power.
In the Premier League, Manchester City are riding high at the top of the table, fourteen points ahead of second-placed Manchester United. The team has only been defeated once in all competitions since late November, a 2-0 local derby defeat at the hands of rivals Manchester United earlier this month. Speculation is mounting, not about whether City will win the Premier League (they are 1/100 runaway favourites with bookie SBK) but rather when. Former City striker, Dickov, has expressed his confidence in the team’s prospects, saying to talkSPORT “they’ve got so much quality within the squad that it’s just frightening”. He added “They’ve coped without De Bruyne and Aguero and Gundogan recently”.
Winning the FA Cup is also a realistic possibility for the team. City will play Everton this Saturday at Goodison Park in the FA Quarter-Final. The Citizens are favourites to win the match with odds of 2/ 5 from SkyBet, and are also favourite to win the trophy with odds of 11/8 from bookie William Hill. The Final will take place on Saturday, 15 May at Wembley. Talks are currently underway to allow upto 20,000 fans to attend, as one of several pilot sports events for the large-scale return of sports fans to venues this spring.
The EFL Cup Final will be held on 25 April, again at Wembley, with Manchester City playing Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham Hotspur. City have won the EFL Cup, currently known as the Carabao Cup, for the last three years and, if they win again, Pep Guardiola will hold a new record as the first coach whose team has won in four successive years. With City’s current form, combined with a relative lack of injuries in the squad, confidence at the Etihad Stadium will be high that the team can deliver that record-breaking win. Once again, Manchester City are favourites to win with odds of 8/13 from SkyBet, with odds for a Spurs win currently on offer at 6/1 from Bet365.
But as the Scottish saying goes “there’s mony a slip ‘twixt cup and lip”. Four finals, four wins, it’s a big ask. At the moment, the challenge looks greatest for the FA Cup as three Premier League titans remain in the competition – Chelsea, Leicester City and Manchester United. The latter two will face each other in their Quarter-Final this Sunday so that will leave two major rivals in the mix.
Quadruple glory beckons. Will Manchester City be able to sustain their form when it matters, to win the Champions League, the Premier League, the FA Cup and the EFL Cup? No-one can know yet but, if the team does manage the quadruple, it will be a historic moment for the club, the city of Manchester and English football as a whole.
Guardiola is keen to dampen the increasing expectations of fans and pundits alike. Just today, he reprimanded City left-back, Oleksandr Zinchenko. The 24-year old went public with his personal views, saying “Inside the dressing room or inside the team I can see the hungry eyes, everyone is so hungry for the titles and that is what you want…I think everything is possible. We have an unbelievable squad, the best players in the world, definitely, why not?”
His boss was not best pleased with the Ukranian’s youthful enthusiasm, and reposted ““I am older than Mr Zinchenko, I have more experience and I don’t agree with him.” He added “The only thing he has to be worried about is trying to do a good game and try to go through. This is the only way. Four titles is a utopia. It never happened before and I think it’s never going to happen”.