LONDON — Do not be fooled by the narrative, which suggests Manchester City are on the cusp of a dominant era after Pep Guardiola claimed his first trophy at the club thanks to Sunday’s 3-0 Carabao Cup final victory over Arsenal.
It is often said that the first trophy is most significant, but while this may have been the one to break Guardiola’s duck at the Etihad Stadium after a barren first season at the club, it was actually the sixth major trophy won by City this decade. If we are talking about a team of the decade in the English game, the Premier League champions-elect are in the pole position.
Since the 2010-11 season, City and Chelsea each have won six trophies, with Manchester United claiming five. Arsenal, who surrendered so meekly at Wembley to leave Arsene Wenger still waiting for his first League Cup triumph, have lifted the FA Cup three times; Tottenham have not earned any silverware.
City have undeniably been a club that wins, and expects to win, major trophies since they claimed the FA Cup under Roberto Mancini in 2011. That ended a 36-year trophy drought for a club, which was synonymous with failure and calamity until Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al Nahyan completed his takeover in September 2008.
City have won two Premier League titles during this decade — the same number as United and Chelsea — but should have been even more successful, considering the investment in the club’s squad, as well as the post-Sir Alex Ferguson decline at Old Trafford.
Arsenal have not challenged and neither, over the long term anyway, have Liverpool, so City should have put their foot down and accelerated away from the pack long before now. Guardiola’s first trophy must act as the springboard for sustained success and glory in the biggest competitions.
European success continues to elude, and with United and Chelsea having added major continental trophies to their honours’ list during recent years, success there will be City’s next target. Indeed, their determination to conquer Europe, with the greatest of respect to the League Cup, is precisely why Guardiola was hired as manager in 2016.
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