LONDON • More than £500 million (S$889.5 million) have been lavished on Manchester City, the most expensive squad assembled in Premier League history.
But it requires so much more than money to build a team of this extraordinary calibre, starting with a rare vision built on mastery of ball possession and the obsessiveness to bring it to life week after week.
Manchester United have shown that you can pour millions down the drain, or into Alexis Sanchez's bank account, and get nowhere without a strategy.
Only "special, special managers" can retain the league title - so many great coaches have failed to achieve it, including former Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger.
But, after City became the first side to retain the league crown since Alex Ferguson did so with United a decade ago, Pep Guardiola challenged his players to keep quenching his thirst for silverware.
His team matched their record total of 32 wins from last season and accrued a total of 98 points, the second highest in league history behind the 100-point tally they achieved last year.
Guardiola is more concerned with trophies than records, however, urging his players to retain their focus for Saturday's FA Cup final against Watford. The Spaniard is fully aware that City, who won the League Cup in February, are on the verge of an unprecedented domestic treble.
The big competitors are never satisfied. The feeling is never enough. In tennis, basketball and golf, they want more and more.
PEP GUARDIOLA, on his ambitions for Manchester City.
He said: "We're so tired but, at the same time, winning is so addictive and, in a few days, we have the FA Cup final. It will be, for most of us, the first time in our lives we have been in an FA Cup final.
"No team in England has done (the domestic treble) before and we have the chance to it. We have to be focused in this game. The FA Cup is not an easy title to achieve."
While the City boss, who has now lifted four major trophies since joining in 2016, is expecting to face a challenge from more than one rival next term, he has plans to recruit new players in a bid to win the league title three straight times - a feat only achieved by Ferguson.
Atletico Madrid midfielder Rodri is reportedly at the top of his wish list, while Leicester defender Ben Chilwell is also of interest.
The 48-year-old said: "The big competitors are never satisfied. The feeling is never enough. In tennis, basketball and golf, they want more and more, and that is why winning back-to-back showed me this kind of thing that it was not enough, what they have done.
"We have to make the right decisions for next season to come back stronger, because Liverpool will maintain it and the other ones will be better.
"United must come back, Chelsea one more year with (Maurizio) Sarri will be better, Tottenham, we have seen in the Champions League and, when Arsenal do what they have to do, they will be there, too. We accept the challenge and I promise you we will be stronger."
However, whether Vincent Kompany - whose contract is up in the summer - stays is still up in the air.
The City captain, though, revealed Guardiola "starts everything off" and his "desire" from day one had transmitted to the rest of the players, giving them the confidence they "could win back-to-back titles straight away".
THE TIMES, LONDON