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Pep Guardiola has asked whether Liverpool's dominance is bad for the game and he may not like the answer

Kevin Palmer



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Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool have pulled well clear of Guardiola’s City (Peter Byrne/PA)

Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool have pulled well clear of Guardiola’s City (Peter Byrne/PA)

PA Wire/PA Images

Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool have pulled well clear of Guardiola’s City (Peter Byrne/PA)

After Manchester City sealed their historic 100-point title win in the summer of 2018, Premier League chief Richard Scudamore offered up comments that were not well received by Pep Guardiola and his all-conquering champions.

In a season that saw City break all records and effectively win the title by mid-November, their final winning margin of 19-points was viewed with a degree of concern by Scudamore and his colleagues, as they continued to pedal the publicity drive for the most competitive league in world football.

These are the marketeers who have long promoted the perception that their brand is different from their European rivals due to a competitive spirit that ensured the team at the top of the table could lose to a rival sitting destined for relegation, yet City's romp to glory sparked concerns that that image was being tarnished.

"It doesn't take away from City's excellence, but we want the season to go to the last," said Scudamore at the time. "I'd like multiple trophies needed in various locations on the last day because we don't know how it will end. I'd like someone to get a little bit closer to Manchester City."

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Richard Scudamore's comments were not well received by Man City boss Pep Guardiola (Mike Egerton/PA)

Richard Scudamore's comments were not well received by Man City boss Pep Guardiola (Mike Egerton/PA)

Richard Scudamore's comments were not well received by Man City boss Pep Guardiola (Mike Egerton/PA)

While the now-former Premier League chief executive may not have been intending to besmirch City's achievements and was merely voicing a valid opinion that more credible competition for the big prize would add to the spectacle for viewers around the world, Guardiola and the City hierarchy clearly didn't appreciate his contribution.

So in a season when Liverpool look set to win the title by an even wider margin than his team managed two years ago, Guardiola used the post-match press conference following his side's 2-0 loss at Tottenham to revisit an old wound that has, apparently, yet to heal.

"The last two seasons, it was an owner from the Premier League that says that can't happen again," said a feisty Guardiola, as his side's latest defeat left Liverpool 22 points clear at the top.

"City winning the titles that way with 100 points is not good for the Premier League, now it's Liverpool, the owner has to be concerned again."

They were words uttered in frustration as he tries to find excuses for his side's slide in fortunes, yet is Guardiola right to raise Scudamore's concerns from two years ago at this moment or does this look like sour grapes from a manager who simply can't cope with the unfamiliar sensation of losing?

The answer to that question is not as straightforward as it seems, but there is little doubt that fans of every other club with aspirations of winning the Premier League title are not as wrapped up in the romance of Liverpool ending their 30-year wait for glory as many in the media and all at Anfield.

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Pep Guardiola thinks Liverpool are too far away to be caught this season (Tim Goode/PA)

Pep Guardiola thinks Liverpool are too far away to be caught this season (Tim Goode/PA)

PA Wire/PA Images

Pep Guardiola thinks Liverpool are too far away to be caught this season (Tim Goode/PA)

That said, the difference between City's romp to glory two years ago and Liverpool's triumph this season is wrapped up in the commodity Guardiola and his paymasters simply cannot buy, however much they spend in a bid to buy their way to the game's top table.

For City to attain the gravitas and respect clubs like Liverpool and Manchester United command, they would need to continue their winning story for another two decades and more, with the snipers who were repulsed by their domination of the English game last season as they won all three domestic trophies unlikely to be as reviled by Liverpool's imminent title win.

While City's success was labelled by many as a triumph for financial doping by their Abu Dhabi backers, Liverpool's success has been built in a more sustainable manner under a manager in Jurgen Klopp who has spent less than most of his rivals when his player sales are added to the balance sheets.

It's one of the reasons why Liverpool's glory feels less manufactured than City's and while that view will rile fans of the Manchester club who hate the perception that their glories are less credible as a result of their methods, that judgment will linger for as long as it takes for their presence as giants of the game to be accepted.

Liverpool have no such credibility issues and even if Manchester United fans are among those considering booking a holiday for the date in late March when Klopp's 'Invincibles' are crowned as champions, there is a widespread feeling that this great club have waited long enough for this moment to come.

As it was when Leicester won the title in the 2015/16 season, few would begrudge Liverpool their triumph in a season when their brilliance has been impossible to ignore from first to last with the fascination of their chase to shatter all Premier League records ensuring interest will be maintained at the top of the table long after the title win has been rubber-stamped.

If Liverpool build on a record that has seen them collect 100 points from a possible 102 in their last 34 Premier League matches over the next three or four years, the monotony of their success may well become tiresome, but that point has not been reached yet.

The trouble for Guardiola and City must be that they are continuing to crave acceptance while competing with clubs that secured that gold standard status many decades ago.

This is not a problem unlikely to evaporate any time soon for Pep and his dethroned Premier League champions.

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