City take title as United stumble

Underdogs West Brom pull off shock win, Guardiola takes his first EPL crown

LONDON • Former Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson was on a golf course when the Red Devils’ first Premier League title was confirmed on May 2, 1993, after Oldham defeated Aston Villa 1-0.

Yesterday, Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola was reportedly playing golf when his maiden Premier League winner’s medal was assured.

United fell to a shock 1-0 loss to bottom dwellers West Bromwich Albion at Old Trafford, a result that confirmed City as champions.

Jay Rodriguez put the visitors ahead in the 73rd minute and West Brom, without a permanent boss as they were led out by caretaker manager Darren Moore, held on for the win.

It is City’s second top-flight crown in five years but Guardiola’s first since taking charge in 2016.

“The only score I want to know is bogey or birdie,” Guardiola said on Saturday, when asked if he would be watching United’s game against West Brom. “Tomorrow, I have golf with my son.”

  • 21 Trophies Pep Guardiola won with Spain’s Barcelona (14) and Germany’s Bayern Munich (seven)

City held all the aces after they beat Tottenham Hotspur 3-1 at Wembley on Saturday, and Guardiola recognised that.

City, who were deprived of wrapping up the title in dream fashion last weekend when they lost at home to United and were then knocked out of the Champions League 5-1 on aggregate by Liverpool last Tuesday, were two up after 25 minutes as they hit back with a vengeance.

“I said to my staff after 10-15 minutes, ‘After today we will be champions’. After the last week, to come here and play like we did, we will be champions,” Guardiola said.

“People say it was a big failure what happened last week, but they don’t understand the reality of football. You can win the Champions League in seven games; the league is 10 months. I’m sorry, it’s much more important what these guys have done this season.”

Gabriel Jesus opened the scoring in the 22nd minute. Ilkay Gundogan slotted home a penalty three minutes later after Spurs goalkeeper Hugo Lloris raced out of his goal and upended Raheem Sterling, although television replays suggested his wild tackle was just outside the area.

Christian Eriksen’s goal shortly before half-time offered fourth-placed Tottenham a route back into the game but Sterling lashed home from close range in the 72nd minute to end Spurs’ unbeaten in the league at 14 matches.

The result lifted City to 87 points from 33 games.

“If we are able to win the Premier League, it will be one of the best three seasons I have ever lived as a player and a manager,” added Guardiola, who won 14 trophies as Barcelona manager and seven while in charge of Bayern Munich.

“In general, the performance was again outstanding – and that’s the level we have had all season.

“The amount of goals (93), chances, points, to do that in the Premier League with the contenders that we have, it is because the players are so, so good.”

Before Saturday, Spurs had not lost a home league game by two or more goals since August 2014, when they fell 0-3 to Liverpool.

But Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino admitted that they deserved to get nothing from the City game.

“In the end, if we analyse the game, they fully deserve the victory,” he said.

“We struggled to start in the game... We didn’t compete in the first 25 minutes.

“We still need to improve to reach the last level which is the most difficult thing.”

For most clubs this season, coming off the pitch second-best to City has been par for the course.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 16, 2018, with the headline 'City take title as United stumble'. Print Edition | Subscribe