Aston Villa utterly dominated Manchester City this past week, resulting in a narrow 1-0 loss for Pep Guardiola’s squad. Considering that Villa had 22 shots on goal compared to City‘s two, the match statistics were somewhat surprising.
After Rodri’s suspension, the away side had to make do with John Stones in the middle of the field. The departure of Ilkay Gundogan from the Etihad in the summer on a free transfer is another big miss. For once, Pep Guardiola matched the champs’ appearance of exhaustion and lack of motivation.
City’s lack of urgency is understandable given the incredible feats accomplished last season. The Sky Blues won a treble of the Premier League, FA Cup and UEFA Champions League. But, their winless streak in the English top tier presently stands at four games.
What did Pep Guardiola say about retirement from City?
Guardiola is, without a doubt, City’s ideal candidate for head coach. A treble there remains a fitting way to conclude his tenure at the Etihad. For a master like the Spaniard, timing is everything, especially when it comes to abandoning something that is already perfect.
The 52-year-old said he would step down as Manchester City manager if the club wins the treble again this year. His contract with the current champions ends in 2025. Regardless, the Spaniard dropped hints he may even retire earlier if they pull off the unbelievable.
“If we win the treble this season, I’ll retire. That’s for sure. I know it is extremely difficult, how many incredible teams have been in England and just one with Sir Alex Ferguson has done it and ourselves last season?
“When we spoke, prepare well for the first game and how we try to do it and then the second and now the third. We will see our level and the competition itself dictates your level, the opponent dictates, the challenge is higher but in September, October, November, thinking about the title, forget about it”, he told Amazon Prime before the Aston Villa defeat.
How likely are City’s chances to repeat treble?
Although they had previously dominated the Premier League for several years, the Citizens finally made it to the semifinals of the Champions League last season. While Manchester United‘s 1998-99 squad was the first English club to accomplish the feat, City became the second.
Several teams have achieved the triple in the past, including Bayern Munich, Inter, Celtic, Ajax, and Guardiola’s first season with Barcelona.
Repeating as triple winners in 2023-24 would be an even bigger accomplishment for the Spanish boss and his squad, given how tough it is to achieve consistent success in English soccer. City is presently trying to break a record that has stood for 135 years: winning the league in consecutive years.
No English team has ever won the treble in back-to-back seasons, adding even more difficulty and challenge to an already tough situation. For the few who have done it twice, the interval between the trebles has never been less than five years.
Given City’s current Premier League struggles, Guardiola may come to the realization that the likelihood of really needing to retire is minimal and dwindling.
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