Manchester City make impossible possible to break new ground in English football
Pep Guardiola’s men have completed a domestic treble with their victory in the FA Cup final.
Bernardo Silva’s stunning eye-of-the-needle assist turned the “impossible” into Manchester City’s reality.
City’s humble general threaded the superlative pass of the day at Wembley, Gabriel Jesus stubbed the ball into the net, and with that, Pep Guardiola’s men set a new precedent for English football.
The rampant 6-0 win over Watford sets the FA Cup next to the Premier League and Carabao Cup in the Etihad Stadium trophy cabinet.
50 - Manchester City are the first English top-flight side in history to win 50 matches in a single season in all competitions, six more than they managed in 2017-18. Eclipsed. #MCIWAT #facupfinal pic.twitter.com/3VBqDI6fEd— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) May 18, 2019
Sir Alex Ferguson was the man to brand a domestic treble “impossible”, and in his era even the mightiest Manchester United teams could not complete an English clean sweep.
Football has not moved on since Ferguson – Guardiola has dragged the sport kicking and screaming into a new dawn.
Every time Guardiola and City break fresh ground, Ferguson surely grimaces at labelling United’s derby rivals the “noisy neighbours”.
United went close to the domestic treble in 2009, only to lose an FA Cup semi-final to Everton, with Dimitar Berbatov and Rio Ferdinand missing penalties.
The Red Devils had gone even closer in 1994, losing the League Cup final 3-1 to a Dean Saunders and Dalian Atkinson-inspired Aston Villa.
City’s Champions League shortcomings remain a major frustration for Guardiola and he will doubtless fuel the Spaniard’s future north-west endeavours.
But the former Barcelona and Spain midfielder admits he is addicted to winning, and will rightly revel in adding another entry to English football’s annals.
Raheem Sterling grew up in Wembley’s shadow, watching the new stadium’s construction, feeling like an outsider desperately wondering how to hit football’s big time.
He's top of the league... 🎵🎵 pic.twitter.com/HSEWq4A8NL— Raheem Sterling (@sterling7) May 12, 2019
How the star’s abilities and growing statesmanship dwarfed the home of English football, a brace here capping a remarkable season.
A campaign dripping with triumphs has also proved laden with defining moments, and on the home front all the doors ultimately slid City’s way.
Vincent Kompany’s thunderbolt strike to edge the nervy 1-0 home win over Leicester effectively sealed City’s one-point Premier League triumph, amid the top flight’s greatest title race thanks to Liverpool’s relentless pursuit.
Even Guardiola screamed at centre Kompany not to shoot, but City’s talisman captain flexed his muscles, proved his point – and sealed the crown.
Had Leicester not missed four of their five penalties in a League Cup quarter-final shoot-out in December, City’s treble quest would have been thwarted before the turn of the year.
And then in the Carabao Cup final Kepa Arrizabalaga’s bizarre refusal to be substituted clearly affected Chelsea’s penalty build-up, with City swiping the title.
City’s FA Cup charge has proved processional by comparison, but even in the semi-final Brighton kept Guardiola’s men relatively quiet. Jesus’ fourth-minute strike still did the trick however, and the Brazilian starred again in the final.
Watford showed up well but were still hammered, and therein lies the brutality of City’s powers.
The Hornets threatened and entertained amid another 6-0 thrashing by City, at Vicarage Road back in September 2017.
This City team can blow anyone away at any time. The treble rubber-stamps the legacy, now watch Pep chase the dynasty.