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Pep Guardiola remains unsatisfied despite Man City’s Premier League title-winning year

MANCHESTER CITY REVIEW OF 2021: Pep Guardiola’s side were crowned Premier League champions this year but failed in their bid to finally win the Champions League

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Man City in 2021: Domestic dominance and European heartache

2021 was a year a filled with firsts but for Manchester City, it was largely familiar.

Bringing in the New Year with almost trademark domestic dominance, Pep Guardiola and co had already picked up two trophies by early May.

Fast forward seven months and they top the Premier League table at Christmas, bidding for their fourth English title under the acclaimed Catalan coach.

Looking as formidable as ever, City are the envy of European football – at least on the pitch.

But one thing still alludes them five-and-a-half years into the club’s tiki-taka era: the Champions League.

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Guardiola won his third Premier League title in May


Getty Images)

Many had doubted the Citizens’ credentials to wrestle the title back from Liverpool back in January, with the Reds coping admirably well with their injury crisis and Guardiola’s side continually dropping points and lacking a 20-goal-a-season striker due to the continual absence of injury-ridden Sergio Aguero.

But three days into 2021 and City staked their claim, destroying Chelsea 3-1 at Stamford Bridge to illustrate that they were indeed the same team which English football had learned to fear in recent history.

That win was near the beginning of a 21-game winning streak in all competitions, ended by bitter foes and closest title rivals Manchester United in March.

Most memorably, the 4-1 humbling of Liverpool at an empty Anfield saw Phil Foden‘s finest hour, while Ilkay Gundogan continued his ferocious goalscoring form which would see him end the term as top goalscorer.

Man City ran riot at Anfield in February


Tim Keeton – Pool/Getty Images)

The league was wrapped up with relative ease, finishing with 86 points, 12 clear of the Red Devils’ tally.

“This has been a season and a Premier League title like no other. This was the hardest one,” said Guardiola after their third title win under his stewardship was confirmed.

“We will always remember this season for the way that we won. I am so proud to be the manager here and of this group of players. They are so special.”

Their smooth domestic run-in, as well as the club’s fourth successive triumph in the League Cup, allowed Guardiola’s men to focus more on their European exploits, having underperformed under the former Barcelona boss in years prior.

Even Aguero, who has recently been forced to retire due to health concerns, got a fitting send-off, scoring two goals on his final appearance for the club in a thrashing of Everton.

Aiming to build on their Champions League quarter-final defeat in 2020, City were preparing to face Paris Saint-Germain in the semi-finals – and then it happened.

Aguero left Man City at the end of last season


Getty Images)

The European Super League was announced, and with it, an eruption across English football.

Nevermind, though, because two days later the soon-to-be champions – along with the other five Premier League teams involved – hastily pulled out.

The Citizens brushed PSG aside over two legs and had booked their tickets for Porto, where they would meet Chelsea.

History was on the Blues’ side and they had beaten City in an FA Cup semi-final and in the league since appointing Thomas Tuchel as their manager in February.

And Guardiola couldn’t break that duck, with Kai Havertz scoring the only goal of the game to give Chelsea their second European crown.

So, it was back to the drawing board over the summer months and despite the £100million signing of Jack Grealish, it felt like the Sky Blues’ transfer window centred around one man: Harry Kane.

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Guardiola still wants his first Champions League trophy with Man City


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A move that seemed like a cert going into pre-season, Tottenham Hotspur were understandably reluctant to let their talisman leave for below their value – £160m.

Once Grealish’s deal was sealed, the chances of the Citizens breaking the English transfer record again were fading and Kane was forced to end his hopes of moving to Manchester.

And who would City start their season against? Spurs.

The England captain didn’t feature as Tottenham won 1-0, though, scoring just two Premier League goals before Christmas while Guardiola’s attack soared and put them three points clear at the top.

It wasn’t all frustration in the summer window, though, as want-away Bernardo Silva stuck around and – if not for Mohamed Salah – would surely be player of the season so far.

Man City top the table at Christmas

Barring a shock League Cup exit to West Ham United, losing the Community Shield to Leicester City, Lionel Messi inspiring PSG to victory over City in the group stages of this season’s Champions League and another home loss to Crystal Palace, their campaign has been unsurprisingly impressive.

Whether it be the sensational 2-2 draw at Anfield (this time in front of a crowd) or their superb 1-0 win against title rivals Chelsea, Guardiola knows his team certainly have the capacity and hunger to bring in silverware again.

With Kevin De Bruyne slowing getting back to his best, Joao Cancelo reaffirming his status as a world-class full-back and the Citizens’ lack of a recognised No.9 yet to cause them any real issues, their assault for a treble is still well and truly on.

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