Niall Quinn has backed Manchester City to be snapping at Liverpool’s heels when the new Premier League season gets under way next month, as he has questioned whether Jurgen Klopp’s champions can replicate their 'freak' run of title-winning form.
The former Ireland and Man City striker concedes that Pep Guardiola’s side have shown 'glimpses of mediocrity' over the last 12 months, but he has dismissed the theory that the 2018 and 2019 Premier League champions are a spent force.
After City progressed to the Champions League quarter-final by seeing off Real Madrid last Friday, Quinn is predicting City will be ready to bite back at Liverpool when the new campaign gets started next month, even though he believes they need to rebuild the aura of invincibility that carried Guardiola’s pass masters to back-to-back Premier League titles.
"It would be pretty stupid to say the opposition has worked out how to contain Man City because most teams still can’t live with them when they are in full flow, but the last year has posed a question and they need to answer them," says Virgin Media Sport analyst Quinn.
"Maybe they have lost some of their fear factor and there have been glimpses of mediocrity from City in the last few weeks, which is not what we expect from this great team and their wonderful manager, but you have to ask the question why that might have happened?
"Part of it may have been due to the reality that Liverpool had the title won long ago and it wasn’t easy for City to keep their focus and motivation for games that maybe didn’t mean as much to them as the Champions League this season.
"So while their defeat at Southampton and the FA Cup semi-final loss to Arsenal were disappointing, was that down to the fact that their opponents worked out how to beat them or was it just that it was a day when their wizards didn’t perform?
"It may be that the opposition are making life difficult for them now, but the idea that City are a spent force or their manager is not the genius we always thought he was is a ridiculous suggestion."
Quinn believes City's lapses in concentration may have been due to a dip in focus after winning back-to-back Premier League titles, but he believes they will refocus for the challenges ahead.
"You can’t have a nine out of ten performance every week and while City came close to reaching those levels for an extended period, they have slipped in that respect this season and the challenge now is to bounce back.
"Roll the clock back a year or so – and it looked like Man City were unstoppable. It looked like they would withstand everything Liverpool could throw at them in a season when Jurgen Klopp’s side got 97 points and still couldn’t finish ahead of City.
"Yet keeping that level of consistency going is a tough task and Liverpool have just changed the whole mood of the Premier League with the way they played this season."
Virgin Media Sport will screen the remaining matches of the Champions League and Europa League, with coverage for Man City v Lyon starting at 8pm this Saturday.