Manchester: Locked out of their stadium for a year due the pandemic, Manchester City fans couldn’t resist gathering outside, waiting for the moment they’d be crowned champions for the third time in four seasons.
It was a result not inside Etihad Stadium but six kilometres across Manchester at their fiercest rival and nearest Premier League challenger that confirmed the title was reclaimed on Tuesday.
Manchester City fans celebrate the Premier League title outside Etihad Stadium.Credit:Getty Images
But it’s not the first trophy they have seen City lift this season, with a fourth successive League Cup won in front of around 2000 spectators at Wembley last month. And they could yet be allowed to witness, likely in Portugal, the team contesting its first Champions League final against Chelsea on May 29 when a treble could be completed.
“We have missed the fans so much,” City captain Fernandinho said. “We wanted to do this for them. We will enjoy this moment and we hope the fans do too. Rest assured we will continue to do everything we can to bring the Champions League home this season.”
A City supporter holds up a replica of the English Premier League trophy outside the club’s home.Credit:AP
Ending Liverpool’s reign as champions gives Pep Guardiola a third Premier League title in four seasons, adding to the trio of domestic titles he won at both Barcelona and Bayern Munich as coach. And he could yet complete the season by ending his 10-year wait to win the Champions League again, just as he did twice leading Barcelona.
In a congested pandemic-impacted season that stretched the resources of teams, City were eight points from the lead in November languishing in 11th place after eight games. But Guardiola turned City’s campaign around.
They’ve scored the most goals — 72 — even without playing with a recognised striker, and also conceded the fewest in the league — 26 — thanks to the resurgence in form of John Stones forming a centre-back partnership with Ruben Dias, who joined ahead of the season for 68 million euros ($105 million).
“This has been a season and a Premier League title like no other — this was the hardest one,” Guardiola said in a statement. “To come through this season — with all the restrictions and difficulties we’ve faced — and show the consistency we have is remarkable. It is relentless. Every single day, they are there, fighting for success, trying always to be better. They have been so, so resilient.”
Now City are the seven-time champions of England but there’s a long way to go to overhaul United’s record of 20 titles. Their neighbour hasn’t won the league, though, since Alex Ferguson retired in 2013.
“Of course it’s not the position we want to be in,” said United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who won the Premier League six times as a player under Ferguson.
“We pushed [City] until the last 10, 12 days of the season. They have been lauded, and rightly so, as one of the best teams that’s been in the Premier League. They’ve shown where the bar is. I want to congratulate Pep.”
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