By Rotimi Daramola (@papi_thegreat)
Somewhere inside the Cardiff stadium on that cold Sunday evening, Pep Guardiola was caught repeating several times to the folks quizzing him – and probably to himself and the authorities – “you have to protect the players.”
Manchester City had just brushed aside yet another opposition in Cardiff City as they marched on, into the 5th round of the FA Cup. It was yet another comfortable win for the Citizens – by half-time, they were already two goals up.
But this was a win that came at a prize, the prize of losing yet another player to an ever-growing injury list.
It’s hard to identify any other club at the moment in Europe that is like Manchester City. No, I’m not trying to praise Pep Guardiola for turning the remaining 19 teams in the world’s toughest football league into “a chasing pack.”
It’s hard to find another club in Europe with a very high possibility of ending the season with quadruple trophies. It’s a wonder that they’re still competing on all four fronts with such a terrible defense and key players suffering varying degrees of injuries.
The injuries being suffered is a direct result of the quadruple chase. City’s injury list may not be long but it’s the names on it that matters.
One of their two strikers, Gabriel Jesus is still out. The injury suffered by Benjamin Mendy and Fabian Delph has forced Pep to use Zinchenko/Danilo on the left. Sane, a regular for Guardiola, will now become a regular at the physiotherapist’s for the next 6-8 weeks.
Without question, the number of games being played has (and is still) taking its toll on the squad. For all the noise about finishing the season doing the quadruple, this is the negative side to it – the very bad side that could, in the end, mess up the very good side of things.
The Citizens may not end up winning all four trophies (most of us think they can’t, right?). With the likes of Barcelona and PSG still in the UEFA Champions League, winning the continental trophy may just be one too much for Guardiola’s side.
Yes, the odds may be stacked against them. But have you seen them play recently?
The Pep philosophy has eaten its way into every head in that squad. There’s no hurry, whatsoever, to move the ball forward into the opposition’s half. The patience with which they build up play from the back – which can be frustrating at times for their fans especially when they’re losing – is beautiful to watch.
They have averaged the most shots per game in the Premier League (17.8). Their average possession stands at 66.4% (the highest in the league at the moment), they have achieved the highest passing accuracy in the league so far (88.8%) and, according to Whoscored, have attempted the most passes per game in the Premier League this season, with 730.79.
They’ve managed to do all of this in the world’s toughest football league.
By all standards, it has been a good season of football for Manchester City already. What is needed now is the icing on the cake, a trophy. One trophy will be good enough to confirm their status as a great team.
Winning four trophies?
That would send them right into the Premier League’s Hall of Fame and put them one above that great Manchester United side that won the treble. And that would be very good for Manchester City, if and when it eventually happens.
What’s the downside? More players may be lost to injuries in the process, something that could hurt the chances of the Citizens making history, and could even turn them into a laughing stock to rival fans at the end of the season. Just imagine Manchester City finishing the season without a trophy. (Can it even happen?)
The quadruple chase is a two-edged sword. On one end, the Cityzens are slaying their opponents, mercilessly. On the other end, they’re bleeding, profusely. Will there be enough to finish the season with four trophies? What do you think? Share your thoughts with me by commenting on this post. I’d love to hear from you.