Kinyanjui: Arsenal fans be warned! why Manchester City’s priority is to win Premier League

PREMIER LEAGUE Kinyanjui: Arsenal fans be warned! why Manchester City’s priority is to win Premier League

Mark Kinyanjui 17:30 - 11.04.2023

Arsenal fans need to be warned! Manchester City still wants this title more than anything.

After Manchester City had just trounced RB Leipzig in the second leg of the Champions League Round of 16, the human goal machine that is Erling Haaland spoke to CBS Sports Golazo about being signed “to win the Champions League” and that “he was not signed to win the league”. I beg to differ, Erling!

To be fair to him though, since Pep Guardiola took the reins at Manchester City in 2016, the words on every pundit, fan, and football journalists' lips have been about City being favorites to the Champions League every year.

You cannot blame them for thinking that. After all, City became the richest club in town in 2008 and felt inevitable that their resources would only have made them stronger. 

The groundwork was immediately laid to make them become a club that would eventually dominate England and Europe for years to come.

After winning their first Premier League title in 2012 under Roberto Mancini in the most dramatic of circumstances Martin Tyler claimed “would never be seen again”, after Aguero got on the end of a Mario Balotelli square pass against QPR, they lifted a second title just two years later under Manuel Pellegrini. However, City still felt they would want to become the best ever team in England

Barcelona played swashbuckling, ‘tiki-taka’ football that was so dominant, it inspired other teams to want to have a feel of the football themselves. Bayern Munich were the first team to have a taste of Pep’s managerial ideas from 2013 to 2016. Although they won the league and two DFB Pokals while he was there, the Champions League trophy never came for Pep.

Desperate to show he could win the league without Messi, an opportunity to move to the riches of Manchester City was way too difficult to turn down. After all, what better way to try and upstage Manchester United’s legacy than by trying to dominate using their “noisy neighbors”?

And so, he jumped aboard the Manchester City ship engraved on their logo. After a first difficult season where they barely made the top four, Manchester City went on a spending spree in the summer of 2017, bringing in Bernardo Silva and Benjamin Mendy, fresh from winning a Ligue 1 title with Monaco, ball-playing goalkeeper Ederson from Benfica and Kyle Walker from Tottenham Hotspur.

Those signings laid the foundation for the start of total Premier League domination for City. The addition of Aymeric Laporte from Athletic Bilbao in January 2018 set the tone for a literal 100 point league winning season, something never witnessed before in English football

A season later, they set the bar so high that Liverpool, who themselves were just starting to also challenge for the title in 2019, achieved 97 points and still did not manage to win the title to City, who achieved 98 points to give City a fourth Premier League title in nine years. Enough to start conversations about a power shift in Manchester? No.

In 2020, Manchester City went through hell. After letting Vincent Kompany leave that summer, and then key players like Laporte and Aguero got injured, they struggled to replicate their form, and Liverpool upstaged them. 

In the days building up to that unforgettable Covid lockdown, A distraught Pep Guardiola said they had ‘given up’ on the title, having just lost 2-0 to Mourinho’s Tottenham.

Shortly after lockdown, Manchester City licked their wounds and managed to finish a distant second, but in the Champions League, they were knocked out in embarrassing fashion by Lyon, with Pep accused of “overthinking’ yet again.

The season after, Manchester City were shocked 5-2 by Leicester City with a particularly shaky defensive performance, which prompted Pep Guardiola to splash the cash on Ruben Dias at center-back. 

The signing galvanized them, and they won that title in comprehensive style, without even using a natural number 9 for that matter. This is a feat they would continue the season after, giving Guardiola a fourth title in 5 years.

In that period, City have never managed to win the Champions League, the closest they ever got to winning it was in 2021. As usual, Pep “overthought” and failed to play a natural defensive midfielder in the hope four playmakers would have found a way to unlock Chelsea’s solid defensive structure, but that was not the case.

It is not the only time Pep Guardiola had tactically overthought Champions League games. After all, he admitted himself he over-thought before their second leg game against Atletico Madrid at the quarter final stage last season. 

Adapting to the strengths of the opposition is what he does, meaning he has the freedom to experiment here. In the case of the league runnings, he rarely makes tactical tweaks and his football dominates most.

This is why to me, anyone who says City prioritizes the league over the Champions League is fooling themselves. Besides, they want to upstage Manchester United’s record of 20 league titles at some point and change that “Manchester is Red” mantra.

Arsenal fans need to be warned! Manchester City still wants this title more than anything. Haaland saying “he was not signed to win the league” is a bluff.