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Can’t Have Them All – Manchester City Season Review

Manchester City players with the Premier League trophy
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Aside from the final 90 minutes of football played in Porto in the Champions League Final, the 2020/21 campaign was a resounding success for Manchester City and Pep Guardiola. They won the EFL Cup for the 4th time in a row, reached the semi-finals of the FA Cup and also won their 3rd Premier League in 4 years in a comprehensive fashion.


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No doubt the defeat to Chelsea in the Champions League Final puts a black mark over an almost perfect season, but being three wins away from completing a quadruple represents the level of dominance that Manchester City have managed to achieve this season. 

What went right?


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As explained previously (4 Reasons Why Manchester City Will Win The Premier League), Guardiola’s shift to a 3-2 system in the build-up with one of the fullbacks tucking in to make a back three, was the catalyst behind City’s title charge. This change offered City more defensive solidity and was one of the main reasons why they conceded only 4 goals in 17 league games between December and February.

Aside from the defensive stability, Ilkay Gundogan unearthed his inner Frank Lampard with his excellent goal-scoring record this season while Phil Foden grew in stature and ability, to become one of the cornerstones of this star-studded team at only 20years of age. 

What went wrong?

Despite winning the league, Manchester City scored 19 fewer goals in the league compared to the 19/20 season and they weren’t as free-flowing upfront compared to previous Guardiola sides. Injuries and loss of form for Gabriel Jesus and Sergio Aguero prompted Guardiola to play without any strikers at all and the lack of a focal point in the attacking phase of play provided some challenges, as seen in the final of the Champions League against Chelsea

Player of the season

While Kevin De Bruyne, Ilkay Gundogan and Riyad Mahrez all had outstanding individual seasons for the Cityzens, it was Ruben Dias who had the greatest impact on the team. Dias is the lynchpin that holds the Manchester City defence together and his calming presence at the back raises the level of the entire team. Despite being only 24, the Portuguese star assumed most of the leadership responsibilities for Guardiola’s side and his positional awareness and ball carrying abilities have been invaluable.

Disappointment of the season


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After scoring 17, 18 and 20 goals in his past three seasons, Raheem Sterling’s league production halved in 2020/21 with only 10 goals throughout the campaign. While Sterling’s finishing has come under the microscope this season, it is his lack of movement and failure to get into scoring positions consistently which is more of a worry. Sterling’s form has tailed off as the season continued and his lacklustre performance in the final of the Champions League summed up his troubles in a microcosm.

What Next?

It is no secret that the last piece of the jigsaw for this Manchester City team is a number nine. Signing an established striker with a goal-scoring pedigree would see this iteration of Pep Guardiola’s team achieve its final form, a scary prospect for the rest of the country. Players like Harry Kane, Erling Haaland and Romelu Lukaku have been mentioned as possible targets and if Manchester City were to acquire one of the three, watching football in the hope of some competitive action may be a moot activity in the years to come.


[Image Credit: Manchester City]