Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola claimed the whole country were supporting Liverpool in recent outburst but the next occasion he is in that situation he needs to think twice
Video LoadingVideo UnavailableClick to playTap to playThe video will auto-play soon8CancelPlay nowJurgen Klopp denies Liverpool are people’s choice for Premier League titleopinionByRobbie SavageColumnist
- 20:14, 13 May 2022
- Updated20:28, 13 May 2022
Pep Guardiola has turned Manchester City into English football's dominant force and they are within touching distance of another century of Premier League goals.
But next time he is tempted to complain that everyone beyond the Etihad wants Liverpool to win the title, he needs a history lesson. First of all, let's hand out praise where it's due.
City will be worthy champions, for the fourth time in five years, if they take four points from their last two games. They play beautiful football. After the heartbreak of their Champions League semi-final defeat by Real Madrid, they have answered the doubters who thought the hangover would spill into the title run-in with 10 goals against Newcastle and Wolves.
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If that's a wobble, I would hate to play City at full throttle. And if they score six goals in their last two fixtures, against West Ham and Aston Villa, it would be their third century of Premier League goals in the last five seasons. In their last 188 league games, Guardiola's free spirits have hit 483 goals. Now that's what I call entertainment. Back in December, when they went above Chelsea for the first time at the top, I said City would win the title – and I'm not changing my mind.
But Pep's little dig about everyone wanting Liverpool to beat them to the title was unnecessary – and I'm not sure I agree with him. For a start, every Manchester United fan would probably prefer City to be champions ahead of Liverpool drawing level on 20 titles. But, look, Liverpool Football Club is an international institution with a huge worldwide following. When they play exhibition friendlies anywhere on the planet, from the Far East to Australia and the United States, they perform to a sea of red.
This is not adulation based on winning one Premier League title in 30 years, as Guardiola observed. It goes back through the generations, to 18 previous titles – 13 of them won in 26 years under Bill Shankly, Bob Paisley, Joe Fagan and Kenny Dalglish. Oh, and they have won the European Cup six times – six times more than City, although I remain convinced Pep will land the holy grail of the Champions League with City sooner or later.
HAVE YOUR SAY! Do you agree with Savage's take on Pep? Let us know in the comments section
Pep Guardiola's rivalry with Jurgen Klopp has generally been a friendly one but the Manchester City boss could not resist a dig about the whole country supporting Liverpool
Success on such a colossal scale builds a fanbase organically, both on Merseyside and beyond. In England, I would say only United have a comparable fanbase – if not slightly larger – across the globe, based on the feats of Sir Matt Busby and nearly 25 years laden with silverware under Sir Alex Ferguson. It's human nature to try and knock the top dogs off their perch. After Liverpool dominated the 1970s and 1980s, Fergie came along and ruled the roost for two decades.
Now, if City make it four titles in five years, they will be established as the dominant force. It's a bit like snooker. When I was growing up, Steve Davis was the top dog and he looked unbeatable when he won six world titles. Then Stephen Hendry came along and won seven, and now Ronnie O'Sullivan is the dominant force at the Crucible. Success tends to go in cycles, and I suspect in 10 or 15 years the cast of pundits on TV will reflect City's domination.
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After United's long reign at the top, Gary Neville, Roy Keane, Paul Scholes and Rio Ferdinand are voices of authority on TV now. In a few years, I'm sure Micah Richards will be joined by a regular cast of ex-City legends in the studio. It will be a sign of their commanding influence on the pitch now. So relax, Pep. Your team is one of the best we've ever seen, not everyone wants Liverpool to win the title and not everyone wants a procession where one team wins it by 20 points every year. Competition is healthy in football. And don't forget, football wasn't invented in 1992, when the Premier League came into existence – Liverpool's history was richest of all before then.
As for Liverpool, to dominate English football, they need to win cups galore – as City have done in the past decade. I fancy Klopp will complete an FA Cup-League Cup double over Chelsea at Wembley, simply because they have the momentum and their permutations up front run deeper. Chelsea are often at their best when underdogs – like the Champions League finals of 2012 and 2021 – but there is a lot going on in the background at Stamford Bridge.
The takeover saga, persistent doubts about £97.5 million Romelu Lukaku's place in the starting XI (although three goals in his last two games will have done him no harm) and patchy form – notably at home – do not scream stability. But while the wuadruple, which would make Klopp's team the greatest ever assembled in Britain, is a possibility, Liverpool must go for it. Even if the title escapes them, three cups would still make it a memorable season by any stretch of the imagination. It will be close, and all three previous meetings this season were draws, but if anyone's going to edge it in the FA Cup final, you've got to fancy Liverpool.
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