Tuesday 21 August 2018

De Bruyne's moment of genius a reminder of City's brilliance

Manchester City's Kevin De Bruyne. Photo: Martin Rickett/PA Wire.
Manchester City's Kevin De Bruyne. Photo: Martin Rickett/PA Wire.

Miguel Delaney

It was a moment to sum up the situation, and maybe the season.

With Kevin De Bruyne under proper pressure in the Tottenham Hotspur half, and Eric Dier really on his back, it looked like an attack would come to nought. Manchester City wouldn't embellish their already strong position.

Not so. Under that kind of pressure, De Bruyne still went and offered one of the passes of the season. He still did something magnificent.

It was a timely reminder of how good he's been, how impressively important he's been to this title win, especially as talk grows that Mo Salah might actually be the campaign's outstanding performer.

It might be the same with City's season as a whole.

This was a timely reminder of how good they've been, how impressive this title is, especially as critical talk grows after the Liverpool defeat.

Magnificent

Under pressure, and with a lot of people suddenly on their back, they again look set to do something even more magnificent.

This is why the supreme nature of the 3-1 win away to Spurs was important for reasons beyond getting closer to the title, and even burying what had been the growing problem of those second-half collapses.

It sets the right tone, ensures the campaign ends in the right mood, and could also now see them hit a lot of records as well as the right notes.

This is why there will be meaning to the rest of the games, even with the title secured. City look back on course for something very special again.

The breakdown is this: with five games remaining, Guardiola's side need three wins to break Chelsea's 2004-'05 points record of 95; four wins and a draw to become the first Premier League side to break 100 points; and 11 goals to break Chelsea's 2009-'10 record of 103.

It looks so much more achievable again, because City suddenly looked so good again. There's also the fact all those remaining games look very winnable in any case.

Guardiola has often mentioned how records don't really concern him, and far more important is that the process of the performance is right, but it is something the players will be concerned with.

They want those records. They want to do something properly historic, and symbolic. And this is why this is important.

Given how exceptional City have been for so much of the season, it would have been a shame had their season ended flatly, or coloured by the memory of that miserable week that saw the defeats to Manchester United and Liverpool.

How campaigns finish does often dictate how they're remembered, regardless of how good you've been before that. Classic cases were Chelsea 2014-'15 and Manchester United 1999-2000 and 2000-'01.

City thereby needed to erode that feeling. They started to do it with such an emphatic win over Spurs, but can now take it further by eroding so many records.

There's also the way that their football has been so good, and of such a high and genuinely unique level, that it feels like they should achieve something historic - like a points record - to properly symbolise that; to give it the special resonance it deserves.

That is in sight again, as De Bruyne plays the kind of football that you will rarely see.

It reflected City's specialness, just as the records of this season should. (© Independent News Service)

Independent News Service

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