“Unstoppable” Manchester City have won the English Premier League crown

Manchester City won their fifth Premier League title in six years, cementing their position as the dominant force in English football.

The club did not kick a ball on Saturday night after their nearest rivals Arsenal were defeated by Nottingham Forest.

The Abu Dhabi-owned side are also well on their way to a historic treble if they triumph in both the FA Cup and the Champions League next month. This feat has only been achieved once in England by cross-border rivals Manchester United more than 20 years ago.

“We have a perfect balance between experience and world-class youth. I’ve never felt so confident on the pitch,” City midfielder Jack Grealish told BT Sport after his side swept aside Real Madrid, the most successful team in European football, in last week’s Champions League semi-final. “We feel unstoppable.”

Is the club’s success risking the Premier League’s most important selling point: intense competition? And what lies behind City’s dominant form?

The Sky Blue Era

The Premier League, the world’s most watched domestic football league, prides itself on excitement and distributes TV revenue far more evenly than other European leagues to cushion the financial power of the richest clubs.

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By some metrics, City’s latest league triumph is little more than an echo of rivals Manchester United’s spell under legendary manager Sir Alex Ferguson.

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The Red Devils won the Premier League 13 times under his management, including three in a row, twice. United won five titles in six seasons between 1996 and 2001, including a historic treble in 1999.

However, based on the points and goals scored during the season, City appear to have set new standards since the league’s inception more than three decades ago.

According to data consultancy Twenty First Group, the Premier League continues to maintain a level of threat – measured by a team’s average chance to win the league over a season – that is not seen in rival European domestic competitions such as Germany’s Bundesliga.

North London side Arsenal’s strong performances this season meant that City had – on average – a 68 per cent chance of winning the league this year, while Bayern Munich had an 89 per cent chance of winning the German title.

The Pep effect

Some pundits are putting City’s reign in the Premier League above one thing: Spanish manager Pep Guardiola. He is widely regarded as the best coach in modern football.

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Evidence of his coaching and tactical strength is City’s performance compared to the results expected based on the club’s wage bill. Personnel costs have long been a good guide to a team’s expected performance, but City have far exceeded their expected points.

The chart shows that Man City's performance on the pitch far exceeded the typical level associated with wage costs

“While City have undeniably signed some very good players during that time, Guardiola’s ability to improve players and get world-class performance out of them is virtually unmatched in world football,” said Omar Chaudhuri, intelligence officer at Twenty First Group.

Smarter spending?

City have certainly not been shy in the transfer market since being bought by the Abu Dhabi royal family in 2008. Since then, according to Transfermarkt, the club has spent €2.3 billion on new players, a figure surpassed only by Chelsea. the west London club’s record-breaking shopping spree this year.

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City’s net spending, which excludes revenue from player sales, was €1.45bn in the period, the highest in the world.

However, after Guardiola’s arrival in 2016, the club seems to have started to spend and sell a little smarter. Since then, City have spent €1.24 billion on signings, less than Chelsea, Juventus and Barcelona, ​​while net spending is lower than United’s.

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Growing wealth

At the time of the takeover in 2008, City was in 20th place in Deloitte’s league table of Europe’s richest clubs. Success has brought commercial riches, and last year it took the club to the top of the league table with revenues of €731 million for the 2021/22 season – thanks in large part to the highest broadcast revenue in football.

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Eternal champions?

City are already favorites to win the Premier League next season, but they face new challengers in this year’s runners-up Arsenal, with stronger challenges expected from recent close rivals Liverpool and Chelsea.

Newcastle United have also made rapid progress since being bought by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund at the end of 2021, while Manchester United could be under new ownership by the start of next season.

Off the pitch, however, a dark cloud hangs over the club, raising questions about whether City’s success has been fair. Sanctions have been threatened since the Premier League referred the club to an independent commission to investigate more than 100 allegations of financial breaches spanning more than a decade – allegations City strongly deny.

If found guilty, possible penalties include points deductions and even expulsion from the league. However, it remains unclear when the process will reach its conclusion.

Data visualization: John Burn-Murdoch and Daniel Clark

Source: https://www.ft.com/content/ddd7732f-5359-4fc3-877f-1d73b1cfd082