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Manchester City are running away with another Premier League title and my overriding feeling is ‘So what?’
Don’t get me wrong, they’re amazing, and perhaps I shouldn’t feel that way but I just do.
When I was told this would be their fourth title win in five years I was honestly surprised.
I didn’t realise that and that’s my point. Maybe I should be amazed but I’m not. It’s just kind of expected.
We’re probably all guilty of taking City for granted. They’re at the stage where they just go out and do it with absolutely no fuss.
I wouldn’t call City a machine because they are far too elegant for that, but you get where I’m coming from.
And yes, I am talking about the league title in the past tense because, for me, it is absolutely over.
Pep Guardiola has had a smashing Christmas. He watched Liverpool fall off a cliff at Leicester, Man United having to really battle to get a point at Newcastle and then Chelsea getting absolutely slaughtered by Brighton.
They might have got a point but I was at that game and Chelsea were right up against it.
City go and get a 1-0 win over Brentford to make it 10 wins in a row and it’s like nobody is really impressed because it’s what we expect.
If one of the other teams did that, we’d be like ‘wow’ but because City do it, it’s all become so matter of fact.
Pep’s got a problem and its a big one. He quite simply has to win the Champions League both for himself and for City.
It’s the Holy Grail. It’s okay winning the Premier League by 20 points or whatever they go on to win it by, but the Champions League has now become what he will eventually be judged on.
When I played at Arsenal we’d have a meeting first day of pre-season and we’d be told we had to win something. That was the minimum requirement.
For City now, it has to be conquering Europe – to prove you finally sit astride the rest.
Pep hasn’t won it. Even with Barcelona when in Lionel Messi he had the best player on the planet by a million miles. They were head and shoulders above everyone.
He didn‘t win it at Bayern Munich. Everybody forgets the decisions he made in the Champions League final against Chelsea.
“It’s like you can’t say anything questioning him because people just go “But, it’s Pep Guardiola’. But every time they have gone out of the competition it’s been their fault.
“You would half fancy them to win it but I have to say I’m not sure they can playing the way they play.
Chelsea slaughtered them in the final back in May, yet a few months later City beat them in the league at Stamford Bridge and absolutely dismantled them.
There’s something missing and though that’s a worry when you are playing the likes of Bayern Munich or Real Madrid, I actually think their biggest dangers in the Champions League could be the English sides.
Pep should be quite rightly congratulated for his incredible achievements at The Etihad but until he puts that big one in the trophy cabinet there will always be a big, black question mark hanging in the air.
Newcastle must go out and sign Dele Alli – but without Wilson and Saint-Maximin they're toast
Newcastle should go to football’s equivalent of the dog rescue centre and pluck themselves a pedigree January signing.
Dele Alli might not be just for Christmas, he might not even be there much after May if The Geordies do take the drop.
But, for me, he’s definitely worth a punt and could prove to be an inspired acquisition.
Dele’s talent isn’t in question but he’s been out in the wilderness at Tottenham for far too long and he needs to do something.
He could be an absolute hero at St James’ Park if he had the balls to take up the challenge.
Anybody would make a difference but Newcastle don’t want to be just signing someone who won’t play.
They might have new money but even in their position it’s not worth buying a striker for £40m when you’ve got the likes of Callum Wilson and Allan Saint-Maximin.
If they can keep those two fit then he has half a chance. If they’re out I can’t see any way they will avoid the drop to be honest.
They are fortunate that despite their best efforts, they are not cut adrift at the bottom.
They showed enough against Manchester United to suggest there’s a togetherness there now, the fans are back behind them and you can see Eddie Howe has made a difference.
James Maddison can be England's Qatar World Cup bolter
If there’s one thing I’d like to see in 2022 it would be James Maddison firing himself into England’s World Cup squad.
The Leicester midfielder has all the ability in the world but seems to suffer alarming dips in form just when people are sitting up and taking notice.
It’s something he’s absolutely got to eliminate if he wants to get on that plane to Qatar.
Maddison needs to stay at the kind of levels he’s reaching now because he is prone to losing his way for some reason.
On three or four occasions now he’s got himself right up there only to suffer a dramatic dip.
I’d love to see him stay at the heights he’s shown he’s capable of.
If he is to get to the World Cup then there can be no dramatic falling off the face of the earth between now and then.
It’s just around the corner in that respect and there can be no tailing off.
I don’t know if he suddenly starts thinking he’s the best player around and takes his eye off things, but if he can stay focussed and stay on a high there’s every chance Gareth Southgate could take him to the big one.
- Premier League
- UEFA Champions League Final
- Manchester City FC
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