Manchester City win the Premier League after United lose to Leicester
Pep Guardiola said his third Premier League title as Manchester City manager was “the hardest one” to win after they were crowned champions following Manchester United’s defeat by Leicester.
The City manager dedicated the club’s fifth league championship in 10 years to legendary former player Colin Bell, who died in January, and a fanbase that has been unable to watch the Champions League finalists this season due to lockdown restrictions. United’s 2-1 home loss left City with an unassailable 10-point lead with three games to play, and delivered the 10th trophy of the Guardiola era to the Etihad Stadium.
“This has been a season and a Premier League title like no other. This was the hardest one,” said Guardiola, who has also won the Carabao Cup this season and guided City to their first Champions League final against Chelsea on 29 May. “We will always remember this season for the way that we won. I am so proud to be the manager here and of this group of players. They are so special. To come through this season – with all the restrictions and difficulties we’ve faced – and show the consistency we have is remarkable. It is relentless. Every single day, they are there, fighting for success, trying always to be better. They have been so, so resilient.”
City finished 18 points behind Liverpool last season and were 13th, with 12 points from the opening eight games of this term, after losing to Tottenham on 22 November. But an outstanding run of 15 consecutive league wins, in a record 21 successive wins in all competitions, propelled the team with the best defensive numbers in the Premier League to their latest title.
Guardiola added: “At the start of every season, the Premier League is the most important title for us. This is the one where you have to be there every three days, playing all your rivals home and away. Only by being the very best, week in week out, can you win this competition. It is a huge success.
“It is so important to say a huge thank you to all our fans. In our toughest moments, we couldn’t hear the crowd get behind us as usual, but we know they are with us everywhere we go and that has lifted us. I promise them we sense their love, we appreciate it and we could not have done what we have done without it. I hope we can all celebrate together one day not too far away. It has been such a hard year for so many people. This one is really for our fans and for Colin Bell and all his family.”
City unveiled a giant banner proclaiming “Champions” over the main entrance to the Colin Bell Stand at the Etihad shortly after their coronation was confirmed. The United manager, Ole Gunnar Solskjær, who made 10 changes to his team against Leicester with Liverpool to play on Thursday, said City have set the bar for their rivals to reach next season.
“Congratulations to Manchester City, they are worthy champions,” said Solskjær. “It is not a position we want to be in [losing at Old Trafford to confirm City’s title] but the reality is we pushed them until the last 10 or 12 days of the season. They have been lauded and rightly so as one of the best teams there has been in the Premier League. They have put the bar very high. We have got to be big enough to hold our hands up and congratulate Pep and his players. We want to get there and that is the next step we want to make.”