Why Manchester City will still dominate England next season
From Barcelona to Bayern Munich, now Manchester City. Pep Guardiola has produced similar results; building a team that dominates the league and plays a style that has the potential to change ideologies in that country. Forever.
When Guardiola arrived in England, it took him some time to find his feet. Unlike his two jobs previous, his City team struggled to assert itself whatsoever. There was failure on all fronts. The Citizens were dumped from both the League Cup and the FA Cup, while never really challenging for the Premier League title. The Champions League was no different.
Perhaps the only positive for the season was qualification for the next season's Champions League.
Many began to ask questions. Had Pep finally lost it? Or was it the level of competition in the Premier League? Proponents of the Premier League, being the most competitive competition in the world felt this was another justification for their argument. Guardiola had finally succumbed to the pressure. No one can mess around with the English top-flight, they thought.
With such relative failure, the Man City hierarchy could have chosen to cut their losses and move on. After all, the man Guardiola replaced had won the League Cup and the Premier League title in his very first season at the club. The man from Catalonia was brought in to do better. Fortunately, they looked beyond his first season. They saw the bigger picture.
He would later repay their faith in him by winning the double in his second campaign, playing a brand of football never before seen at the Etihad stadium and England as a whole. The Blues broke numerous records on the way to lifting the title. Now, they're being compared to some Premier League greats from years gone by.
With the team still intact, while players like Leroy Sane, Gabriel Jesus, Raheem Sterling and Benjamin Mendy still in their early twenties, this is a team that is built for the future. A classic Guardiola side ready to dominate the competition for years.
There are also some immensely talented youngsters waiting in the wings. Phil Foden, Ibrahim Diaz, and Tosin Adarabioyo aged 18, 19 and 20 respectively. These all had their run in the team last term, including the odd Champions League outing.
The manager's refusal to send them out on loan last season says a lot about his belief in their quality. Add to them the experienced quality already established, including goalkeeper Ederson, arguably the best right back in England Kyle Walker, David Silva and Kevin De Bruyne in midfield, you have a team capable of dominating any opponent.
This is what José Mourinho, Jurgen Klopp, Mauricio Pochettino and Unai Emery have to contend with.
Guardiola's advantage is not just in the quality of players at his disposal. It's his ability to mould them into a unit that becomes extremely difficult to defeat. The City side we witnessed last season was a replica of his legendary Barcelona team that conquered Europe for almost half-a-decade.
Perhaps a lack of experience proved their undoing in the Champions League. But another year together with more team-bonding and feeling more at home with his methods, who knows what could happen in 2018/19...
As for the domestic front, the likes of Manchester United, Liverpool, Tottenham and Arsenal will have to do an awful lot better than last term to stop the Sky Blues. United have kicked off with the signing of Fred, and youngster Diogo Dalot. Liverpool have acquired top players like Naby Keita and Fabinho, Harry Kane has committed his long-term future to Tottenham, while Emery is also making astute signings of his own. But the question remains: will this be enough? At this point, I have my doubts...