That was simply incredible. There are no other words for what I have just seen at Etihad Stadium.
After a day of intense drama, and another unbelievable comeback, Manchester City have just won their fourth Premier League title in five seasons, which is an amazing achievement – so why does it feel like they still don’t get the credit they deserve?
When we look back at this era in 10 or 20 years’ time, we will view Pep Guardiola’s side and their main rivals Liverpool as two of the greatest sides that English football has ever seen.
Right now, though, it feels like Liverpool get all the love.
The accepted narrative in many parts of the media is not only that Jurgen Klopp’s side play better and more exciting football, but that they have also achieved their success the ‘right’ way, supposedly without spending much money.
City, I keep hearing and reading, are boring to watch and have bought their titles. Apparently, anyone could do what my old team have done and it’s ‘bad’ for football.
I find it incredible, not to mention extremely annoying, that some people accept all of this as the truth. How could anyone describe what City have just done as dull?
What exactly are they basing that view on? Has greatness suddenly become boring now, or is it just when City are involved?
City aren’t boring, they are brilliant
To suggest Liverpool have built their team on a shoestring budget is every bit as ridiculous as saying City are dull.
When a team such as Leicester win the title, then you put your hands up and say it really is an incredible feat – but for starters Klopp has broken the world records for the most expensive goalkeeper (Alisson, for £66.8m) and defender (Virgil van Dijk, for £75m).
That’s some spending power, and of course it has made a difference.
This Liverpool team is outstanding too, and their rivalry with City has seen them push each other to even greater heights – this is the second time a Klopp side have ended with 90-plus points but missed out on the title.
Quite rightly, while they were chasing a first English quadruple this season, I kept hearing how great Liverpool are – so how good must the team be that, over the course of 38 games, has finished above them this time and a total of four times in the past five years?
Yet City never get the same recognition as Liverpool no matter what they win or how they do it, and it makes no sense to me. Hopefully Sunday finally silences that argument and proves to everyone that they are not boring – they are brilliant.
Why have City got this tag of being dull?
City have been brilliant for pretty much the entire campaign. I wouldn’t say there was one specific moment that was the turning point in their successful title defence, where I thought ‘here we go’.
They have been relentless, and ended up edging out Liverpool by one point, the same margin as when they beat the Reds to the title in 2019.
City probably could have won it by more, but they only drew 2-2 with Liverpool twice in the league when they should have won on both occasions. What happened in the first of those meetings between the top two sums up the different ways they are perceived.
At Anfield in October, Reds’ stand-in right-back James Milner could have been sent off twice. City were absolutely immense and deserved to win.
But all everyone wanted to talk about afterwards was how good Liverpool were. It was basically because Mohamed Salah scored that ridiculously good individual goal. Yes, it was special – but that wasn’t a great team display by the Reds.
Of course you can single out individuals for praise. I love the way Salah plays and his dribbling skills are unbelievable. Another Liverpool player, Luis Diaz, has been absolutely electric since they signed him in January.
But City were not dull that day, the same way they have not been dull in their 37 other league games.
Let’s get this straight: City play amazing football, and that is what makes their opposition boring to watch most of the time.
We are talking about a team who consistently have so much possession that their opponents often can get nowhere near them. Some don’t even try.
If the opposing team want to set up camp on the edge of their own 18-yard box and keep a low block for 90 minutes, which happens most weeks, then how are City the ones who get the tag of being dull?
If they were some kind of defensive-minded team that achieved results by parking the bus, I’d get it. But they have scored 99 goals this season, in the league alone so that’s clearly not the case.
It doesn’t matter if you are a City fan or not. I’d argue if you love football, then they are a joy to watch. If you didn’t enjoy Sunday, then there is no hope for you!
City found their groove, again
City have won this title because of the standards they have set from the first month of the season.
Not quite from minute one, because they lost at Tottenham on the opening weekend, but they didn’t have a full squad available then, and a lot of the players who did feature weren’t fully fit.
They have only lost two more league games since then – at home to Crystal Palace at the end of October, after Aymeric Laporte was sent off, and then to a Harry Kane masterclass for Spurs in February.
In between those two defeats, City won 14 league games out of 15, and drew the other one. We’ve seen them go on those kind of runs before, and it’s always when they get their players fully fit a few weeks into the season.
When they get into a groove like that, they are just unstoppable.
I was at City when we won the league in 2012 and 2014 and we got over the line both times, which takes some doing in itself.
As great as both those teams were, and we had some absolutely brilliant players, it just feels that Pep’s City teams now are on a completely different level to the ones I played in.
The Premier League is the greatest prize for me
I do understand some of the criticism directed at City, because the Champions League remains a problem.
If they had lifted it under Guardiola, then they would have won everything possible in the past six years.
That’s why I wanted them to do it so much this time, because then it would put away that argument that you cannot be considered a great team without winning it.
But it is the Premier League that is always the greatest prize for me. It seemed easy when I saw other teams winning it but when you’ve been there, you realise what a slog it really is, physically and mentally, to finish top of the pile.
You have to be so consistent to become champions in the first place – and then the next challenge when you try to defend your title is to keep your focus. It was something we couldn’t manage in my day.
So, I have got nothing but admiration for this City team after seeing them fight back against Villa when all seemed lost, and hold off Liverpool again.
They have shown great character over the past nine months to end up champions this season but never more than in the second half on Sunday, with time running out and Villa hanging on.
Micah Richards was speaking to BBC Sport’s Chris Bevan.
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