“Talk of the quadruple – none, but of winning the next game, next game, next game and that belief – always.”
Sorry Vincent Kompany but we find that incredibly hard to believe. There is simply no chance that an astonishingly motivated and frankly outstanding set of athletes has never said ‘what if…’ or ‘do you know what….we could’. Largely because they really bloody could.
The odds on City winning all four trophies this season is now just 9/1. For context, the odds on Wigan beating them in the FA Cup this weekend are 12/1. If the League One promotion-chasers harbour hopes of triumph over 90 minutes – and they might as well give up on football if they don’t – then City surely talk in quiet corners about winning all four trophies. It is no longer a pipe dream but a very real possibility.
They are right to scoff at such suggestions in public. What City have achieved this season in the Premier League is enough shades of phenomenal without adding greater expectations and the chance for naysayers to add a tinge of perceived failure. But privately, human nature dictates that they must be talking about making history.
That history now feels a little closer after a breeze of a last-16 first-leg tie against Basel that came with a whole raft of positives aside from the obvious. Not least another full 90 minutes played by Kompany himself; astonishingly, that was his first appearance in this Champions League campaign.
Add in a wonderful performance from Ilkay Gundogan (and his third consecutive 90 minutes), the returns of Leroy Sane, David Silva and Fabian Delph from injury, a far more confident Bernardo Silva, the priceless opportunity to rest both Raheem Sterling and Kevin De Bruyne, and this was a damn near perfect night for City. Just ten days after pointedly naming just six substitutes for a Premier League draw with Burnley, Pep Guardiola could afford to leave over £100m of centre-halves on the bench for 90 minutes. Be very afraid, Wigan; that 12/1 suddenly looks a little tight.
“We are still in February and in the Premier League we are in an amazing position and we are almost in the quarter-finals, we are in one final (EFL Cup) and on Monday we have the opportunity to reach the quarter-finals of the FA Cup. Game by game,” said Guardiola in Switzerland. Game by game indeed, but as the games run out, that quadruple looks less and less ridiculous.
On Monday we had one national newspaper journalist claiming that Tottenham were enjoying a golden era to rival the Busby Babes, Bill Shankly’s Liverpool and Sir Alex Ferguson’s great swashbuckling Manchester United sides. He suggested we watch this great Spurs side – then fourth in the Premier League and now fifth – while we still can. Were City to win all four trophies – or even only two or three – it will not be Tottenham’s valiant over-achievers that we will tell our children about. Pay attention people, we may be watching history being made.
Planet Sport exclusive: Umpire: Officials shouldn’t be pally with players. (Tennis365)