As the Etihad erupted in celebration at the final whistle, Pep Guardiola’s face crumpled and tears began to flow down his cheeks.
That is what three goals in six remarkable minutes to seal the Premier League title at the end of an emotionally draining, rollercoaster season will do to a manager.
In the moment on Sunday, it was all about the raw joy of football and Manchester City retaining their status as the number one side in English football.
In the months to come, though, before another season gets under way, Guardiola may allow himself a moment to reflect on all he has achieved during his time in the Premier League. It truly is something special.
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A record-breaking reign
City’s tally of 93 points is the joint fourth-highest total in Premier League history. Yet, remarkably, it is only the third highest City have attained during Guardiola’s reign.
In only one league campaign under the Spaniard have they lost fewer games than this season’s three – the two defeats suffered in 2017-18.
City finished the 2021-22 season with a goal difference of +73, scoring 99 goals while conceding only 26. It is the second highest goal difference in the competition’s history, behind their own +79 in 2017-18.
Those 99 goals were scored without a recognised number nine, although they appear to have solved that problem for next season with the ominous signing of Erling Haaland.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. Guardiola has been a record-breaking machine during his time in England:
- Most points (100), goals (106) and biggest goal difference in a season (+79)
- Biggest winning margin (19 points ahead of second-placed Manchester United)
- Joint most wins (32) and consecutive wins (18) – both shared with Liverpool (2019-20), with the first matched by the City side of 2018-19
- Most away wins (16)
- Joint most home wins (18) – shared with their own 2011-12 side, Chelsea (2005-06), Man Utd (2010-11) and Liverpool (2019-20)
- Most consecutive wins (21) and away wins (12)
- Longest run without falling behind in a game (19)
In 2021 Guardiola’s side registered 36 league wins in a calendar year, beating the 33 achieved by Bob Paisley’s Liverpool in 1982. City also recorded a record 19 away wins in the same 12-month period.
In the process of winning this season’s title Guardiola became the fastest manager to reach 500 points – in just 213 games, 18 fewer than previous best Jose Mourinho.
This season City scored the 500th goal of Guardiola’s reign in only his 207th match in charge, with Phil Foden claiming the honour in a 7-0 win over Leeds. This puts Guardiola well ahead of Jurgen Klopp (234 matches), Sir Alex Ferguson (265), Arsene Wenger (271) and Mourinho (289).
|Guardiola’s overall Premier League record|
Guardiola’s points-per-game record in the Premier League is better than any other manager of note.
He also tops the all-time list of top-flight managers in England for win percentage.
This season’s title moves Guardiola on his own into second place for Premier League trophies won – behind Ferguson. It also lifts him up the list of all-time English top-flight crowns, with just six men now above him.
|Managers with most English top-flight titles|
|13||Sir Alex Ferguson (Man Utd)|
|6||George Ramsey (Aston Villa), Bob Paisley (Liverpool)|
|5||Herbert Chapman (Huddersfield & Arsenal), Tom Watson (Sunderland & Liverpool), Matt Busby (Man Utd)|
|4||Kenny Dalglish (Liverpool & Blackburn), Pep Guardiola (Man City)|
|3||Stan Cullis (Wolves), Bill Shankly (Liverpool), Arsene Wenger (Arsenal), Jose Mourinho (Chelsea)|
Guardiola is only the fourth coach in English top-flight history to win the title four times over a five-season period, after Ramsay, Paisley and Ferguson.
City’s latest triumph extends Guardiola’s astonishing record wherever he manages – he has won the title in 10 of his 13 seasons in charge of Barcelona, Bayern Munich and City.
Since his first season at Barca in 2008-09, this tally is more than any other manager, the next best being Massimiliano Allegri and his six Serie A titles with AC Milan (1) and Juventus (5).
Guardiola v Klopp
Many great sporting stars have been partly spurred on to their achievements by the competition provided by a brilliant equal.
Mohammed Ali had Joe Frazier, Chris Evert had Martina Navratilova, Alain Prost had Ayrton Senna. In Premier Leagues past, Ferguson had Wenger.
Guardiola has Jurgen Klopp.
The pair arrived in England nine months apart (Klopp in October 2015, Guardiola in July 2016) but with a ready-made and healthy rivalry, forged in the Bundesliga at Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich respectively.
In two seasons in Germany, Guardiola won five meetings to Klopp’s four. Guardiola claimed two league titles and a 2013-14 DFB-Pokal win (beating Dortmund in the final), with Klopp gaining some revenge the following season by beating Bayern in the semi-finals en route to cup success after also claiming the DFL-Supercup at their expense.
There is no contest as regards major trophies won. In England alone, Guardiola has nine to Klopp’s four, although the latter has the one big prize to elude Guardiola at City – the Champions League.
In the Premier League, Guardiola has the edge in games between the two, with four wins to Klopp’s three and five draws (two of which came this season).
If we view the contest across all competitions, Klopp leads, with this season’s FA Cup semi-final win and two Champions League quarter-final leg wins in 2017-18 giving him a 6-4 advantage.
Overall, Klopp is the only manager to have faced Guardiola more than 10 times and to have won more than he has lost.
|Guardiola’s overall record against Klopp (all competitions)|
More goals, more shots, more passes…
It probably won’t surprise you to learn that City have had more shots than any other Premier League side during Guardiola’s reign – 4,038, with Liverpool the next best on 3,781.
Unsurprisingly, City have scored the most goals.
It could easily have been higher too, with City hitting the woodwork a whopping 135 times in the past six seasons. The next best is 97 by Chelsea.
As an indication of how Guardiola prizes having the ball, City’s possession stats are impressive. They average 67% possession during his reign and have made 155,639 passes – over 15,000 more than any other side.
Most of these passes have been in the opponents’ half too – 93,700 of them. That is over 12,000 more than any other team. Their 8,829 touches of the ball in the opposition box is over 1,200 more than next best Liverpool.
City’s attacking prowess does not come at the expense of their defence, which also tops the table on key stats during Guardiola’s tenure.
|Premier League record since start of 2016-17|
|Team||Clean sheets||Goals conceded per game||Shots faced per game|
Another tenet of Guardiola’s philosophy is the speed with which his side are expected to win the ball back.
In the past five seasons that fbref.com has been gathering data, City have never been outside the top two in the division for the percentage of time they win the ball back within five seconds of applying pressure to an opponent.
Since the start of 2017-18 they average 32.3%, slightly higher than Liverpool.
Sterling used and sterling spent
Guardiola has used 53 players in the Premier League during his six seasons at City, which is consistent with the other clubs that have regularly challenged at the top of the table since 2016-17.
Sterling is City’s top Premier League scorer under Guardiola with 85, three more than Aguero, with Gabriel Jesus the next best on 58.
Kevin De Bruyne tops the assists charts with 77, 23 more than next best Sterling.
During his time at City, Guardiola has had greater financial resources than almost any manager in English football history, with the club backed by the extraordinary wealth of the Abu Dhabi United Group.
It is estimated that he has spent close to £900m since the summer of 2016 – a total that will edge close to the £1bn mark with the recruitment of the much sought-after Haaland this summer.
Some will use these figures to diminish Guardiola’s achievements. What is harder to criticise is how he has spent the money.
Guardiola’s big-money successes in the transfer market far outweigh his expensive flops.
City have sold well too, getting good fees for fringe talent and making a profit on some players who failed to fully live up their billing, such as Leroy Sane and Ferran Torres.
In the brilliant Phil Foden and the promise demonstrated by Cole Palmer, there are indications that Guardiola is also helping nurture talent through City’s academy.
A record-breaking, trophy-laden past could very well precede an equally bright future.
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