After Manchester City’s 1-1 draw against Southampton this afternoon, head coach, Pep Guardiola became the fastest manager in history to reach 500 Premier League points. The accolade comes after just 213 games with the club as the Spaniard beat Jose Mourinho’s previous record of 500 points through 231 matches.
With 15 fixtures remaining, City are shaping up to win a fourth league title in the last five years. Guardiola’s team currently sit at first place in the Premier League with 57 points, 12 more than second place Liverpool and a lead the coach admitted he’s surprised to have at this point in the season.
“I would like to have a 40-point lead ahead of Liverpool, but that is not possible in January,” Guardiola said. “I didn’t expect to have this lead, but now we will rest and come back as best as possible.”
Since his appointment in August of 2016, Pep has insisted on implementing “tiki-taka” or his possession-focused style of play into the Sky Blues averaging 65 percent of total ball control during 2021.
Although he failed to win any domestic or European trophies in his first season at City, players quickly adapted to his demands for high-defensive pressing and an emphasis on passing which produced a record-breaking 2017-18 season in his next year.
Man City went on to give Pep his first Premier League title as the team won by a never-before-seen 19-point margin, earned the most points ever in a single season (100), scored the most goals and had the greatest goal differential ever recorded in English top-flight soccer.
What was most impressive about Guardiola’s first winning season with the Citizens is how his team responded the following year. The Sky Blues went on to win the league title again marking the club’s first ever time being crowned back-to-back champions and did so finishing just two points shy of the record they set the previous season.
Pep sought to eliminate any whiff of complacency within his team by creating rigid schedules and restrictions for eating, sleeping and social life and in turn began to develop a domestic dynasty in Manchester.
In that 2018-19 season, City became the first ever English side in history to win a domestic treble after thrashing Watford 6-0 in the FA Cup Final, winning the Premier League and pipping Chelsea to the League Cup title winning 4-3 on penalties.
Although it seems Guardiola has won it all with Man City, there’s still one trophy that’s eluded him in his five-and-a-half years with the club, the Champions League. In their most recent completed season, City reached the final for the first team in their history, but fell short to Chelsea in a 1-0 defeat.
Despite all of his success in England, critics argue that the Spaniard’s time at City cannot be considered a success until he gets his hands on the Champions League trophy. In response, Guardiola admitted he’s learned to live with the expectation that he needs to deliver European glory.
“I accept it, every year is the same,” Guardiola said. “If I win the Champions League, I will be happy for the club. If I’m not able to do it, I’m not able. After you can judge the success of my period.”
With his contract set to expire at the end of the 2022-23 campaign, Pep has just two more seasons to crown Manchester City as European Champions, but there can be doubts that he has given the Citizens an unprecedented period of domestic dominance.