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Guardiola’s gladiators going forth for immortality

There’s an oft posed question in football that sardonically asks whether a flair player, ‘Can do it on a cold rainy Tuesday night in Stoke?’


World Champions City are undefeated in 34 games since losing at Villa.

Modify the question to whether an entire team bursting with an abundance of class, flair and pedigree – no less than Pep Guardiola’s Treble winners – could ‘do it’ on a freezing cold Wednesday night in Birmingham, and the answer was an emphatic ‘no’.


In an abject display, City lost 1-0 to Aston Villa with a woeful performance, perfectly illustrated by the visitor’s total of two shots compared to their host’s 22.


Not focused - City were abysmal against Villa.

On a truly miserable evening, the 3,000 strong travelling support could have had no idea that more than five months later – with the last Premier fixture of the season just a day away – City would go the rest of the campaign unbeaten.


Yes, City bowed out of the Champions League in a penalty shootout against Real Madrid, but in 34 games in regulation time, they have won 28, drawn six, scoring 95 goals in the process and conceding just 26.


They’ve snaffled 58 out of a possible 63 Premier League points, with 18 wins and four draws, as well as navigating a path to a second consecutive FA Cup Final.

Riding high - Rodri celebrates Erling's goals at Spurs.


By any measure it’s an incredible run, one that will be historic if Pep’s perennial winners can notch up victories over West Ham and Manchester United.


At a time when jealous, inadequate and vanquished opponents are desperately hoping 115 will be the magic number to halt the City juggernaut, Guardiola is figuring on a unique quadruple and a double-double.


Four successive seasons as the Champions of England would arguably be Guardiola’s greatest ever achievement. The Premier League is widely acknowledged as THE most competitive topflight league in club football.

Five trophies in one calendar year in 2023. City want to add another two in 2024.


Historically, Huddersfield Town in the 1920s, Arsenal in the 1930s, Liverpool in the 1980s and Manchester United in the 1990s/and noughties, all chalked up a trio of consecutive top tier titles, but none managed four.


If City beat David Moyes’ team at the Etihad they’ll have amassed 91 points during 2023/24. Guardiola’s five previous successes have been achieved with points hauls of 100, 98, 86, 93 and 89. It would mean an average of 93 points per season and sets a bar of dizzying heights.


No Treble in 2024, but a Double Double will do nicely.

The Catalan genius has often praised Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool as his most difficult opponent throughout his managerial career encompassing Barcelona, Bayern Munich and now City.


He credits Klopp with pushing City ever onward and upward as the two clubs have fought head-to-head in some titanic title battles. Twice on the final day of the season City have edged the Scousers by thin margins.


As Klopp bids auf wiedersehen to English football, he's being lauded as one of the greatest managers to grace the game.

Guardiola graciously credits Klopp with being his most difficult opponent.


With just a single PL title, one FA Cup, two Carabao Cups, a Champions League, UEFA Super Cup and a FIFA World Club Championship in nine seasons, it does seem somewhat over the top.


However, the Klippity fanboys in the media, along with the platoons of pro-Liverpool ‘pundits’ can’t have it both ways.


If Klopp and his team have been so great, how can it be that Pep and City are accused of reducing the Premier League to the proverbial ‘Farmers League’? If City win a sixth PL in seven seasons it cannot be compared to the likes of Barcelona and Real Madrid in La Liga, PSG in Ligue 1 and, until Harry Kane joined them, Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga.

Pep has left Liverpool flawed over the years with 5 PL titles to Klopp's solitary success.


This year it’s Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal who are hoping against hope they can overturn a two-point deficit to snatch the Premier League crown at the death.


The Gunners have sat top of the league for most of the season in a three-horse race with Liverpool and City. It’s a season widely regarded as one of the most exciting for years, and yet the narrative will lurch in a different direction if City win tomorrow.


Arteta's Arsenal have spent more time at the top of the table than City, but it only counts on May 19th!

The usual tripe, bile and venom will be trotted out.


City will have bought and cheated their way to glory against the plucky underdogs of United, Liverpool and Arsenal – the Red Cartel who don’t spend big on transfer fees and players wages!


It’d be hilarious were it not for the fact that millions of people actually believe – or want to convince themselves – that it’s true. Perhaps Erik ten Bob, gurning Jurgen and Arseyteta should all be in with a shout for the Net Spend Trophy or the Homegrown Eleven Cup?


Heroic Ederson fractured his eye socket at Spurs on Tuesday night.

Could it be that Phillipe Coutinho’s transfer fee from Anfield to Barcelona was £146bn and not £146m?  It would explain a lot.


It’ll be #115 everywhere on social media, Sky Sports, BBC – you name it – the keyboard w@nkers/warriors will crawl from under their rocks, furiously tapping away.


Ruben tells Stefan that he's 'The Man' after his goalkeeping heroics at Spurs

You won’t be able to find a spare asterisk for love nor money. It'll be like Covid19 bog roll panic buying, they'll all have gone. The City haters will be sticking them next to every title, cup and medal that’s ever arrived at the Etihad since 2008.


At this juncture very little is known about the Independent Tribunal sitting in judgment on City’s alleged 115 breaches of Financial Fair Play regulations, or is it Profit and Sustainability Rules, or whatever idiocy Dick Masters and his cronies at the Premier League are laying at City's door.


Dick by name, dick by nature. City are going to hand PL CEO Masters his arse when #115 is finished.

What I do know – even without my sky-blue tinted spectacles on – is that I and the overwhelming majority of City fans, have faith in the integrity, professionalism and business expertise of City Chairman, Khaldoon Al Mubarak.

Is there a better football club owner than Sheikh Mansour? Nah!

In a similar fashion to City’s Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) triumph over UEFA in 2020, the clever money is on another tick in the win column on the 115 charges.


There’s no solid basis for such a positive assertion other than speculation and a cast iron confidence in Khaldoon & Co.

City beat UEFA at CAS and are set to beat the Premier League at the tribunal investigating the 115 charges.


The Tribunal doesn’t have the far-reaching legal powers of CAS and is heavily reliant on the same body of so-called ‘evidence’ - the spurious material used in UEFA’s failed case.

Pep and Khaldoon - together every step of the way.


Rumours of the Premier League seeking some sort of exit strategy – without their brand being completely trashed and tarnished – have been doing the rounds in recent weeks.


It would beg the question as to why City would have any inclination to help their accusers emerge with even a modicum of credibility? Surely City would want to exact revenge and extract their pound of flesh?


Hopefully City skipper Kyle Walker will have another one of these in his hands tomorrow.

It’s what your average City supporter would want – even demand – but there’s a bigger picture to consider.


For all its shortcomings, vindictiveness and dubious dealings, the Premier League negotiates agreements generating billions for the 20 PL clubs. A new four-year, £6.7bn deal with Sky Sports and TNT comes into play from the 2025/26 season.


City are the best of the best and earn top dollar Premier League prize money.

As the top performing and therefore top earning club, City might be perceived as cutting off their nose to spite their face, if the Premier League product was to suddenly lose its global appeal.


Further encouragement that matters are going in City's favour comes in the shape of Etihad Airways plan to float on the stock exchange. Such a move would require it to disclose financial records to a wide audience. Hardly the actions of a company wanting to cover up alleged crooked sponsorships with City.


City fans with a clever play on words as lawyer Lord David Pannick represents the club against the Premier League.

As City fans anticipate – but don’t take for granted – wins against West Ham and  The Swamp dwellers in the coming week, the most telling triumph should be coming down the pike with Lord David Pannick KC – City’s lawyer – mastering dastardly Dicky Masters, the Independent Tribunal and the collective red scum.


City will be looking for open top bus celebrations this season, but not the 115 from Middleton.

The popularity of #115 could then go back to applying solely to the 115 service running out of Middleton Bus Station in Greater Manchester.




By David Walker



Twitter @ReadButNeverRed



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May 21

Another beautifully written post ... couldn't agree more

Thank you Mr RBNR 💙

Replying to

Gratitude TJ - let’s hope we win a Double Double and smash those 115 pieces of fiction.


Fantastic analysis DW... I'm sure we'll be in the clear, it needs putting to bed in the Autumn, just hope it does not drag on too much into next year, I'm running out of yawns about this subject. Amazing how many non City fans are obsessed with us and #115!

Best Wishes...

Replying to

Who’d believe a bus service could capture the imagination of so many? Thank you for your feedback.


The whole management of football in this country is a laughing joke. Whether or not City have breached FFP rules, I do not know. But what I do know for sure is that the authorities that be, have time and time again shown that they are happy to draw their massive pay cheques but yet remain to be wholly ineffective in their roles. City aside for a moment, points have been deducted from PL clubs and then appealed and then been reinstated only to be followed by a further deduction. How can any club plan a future against that sort of uncertain background. The authorities need to get on and get enforcement identified where breaches are identified and the…

Replying to

Superb comment and overview amply illustrating the need for an independent regulator with teeth. Thank you.


I still say, it’s all about 11 players crossing that white line and playing football to the best of their abilities. Yet, the constant 115 W⚓️’s harp on about City cheating their way to trophies when the sensible people amongst us know, no player is involved with anything to do with the running of the club and are focused on winning a game week in week out. Let’s hope City solicitors wipe the floor with the PL.

Replying to

I’m convinced City will do just that - wipe the floor with the PL and the red cartel - but due to the slanderous narrative over the past couple of years, there will always be those casting aspersions on City’s remarkable achievements.

But you know what - FCK ‘EM!


As ever a well-written piece. From today's papers I see that Spit-The-Dog Carragher has joined the long list of hacks who see themselves as judge, jury & executioner for the PL charges. I trust City will deal with him in the same way as the others.

As in previous years there will undoubtedly be two Premier League trophies in situ tomorrow - one at its rightful home at The Etihad and one at The Emirates, although the big Dick Masters is if course attending the match down south. A wise decision on his part as he'd probably be lynched if he turned up in Manchester!

Replying to

Carragher is an infection, a virus, a vile piece of something that should be banished from public view. If Sky had an iota of integrity they’d drop him like a bad habit. Of course they won’t do that because they don’t want to upset the Scousers. How the hell he kept his job after gobbing on that lass beggars belief.

Thanks for the feedback MG.

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