Are we watching the best team the Premier League has ever seen?
That’s certainly what some pundits are starting to suggest after Manchester City’s latest footballing exhibition.
Stoke City were the unfortunate recipients of a schooling so strict it belonged in a Dickens novel yet graceful and mesmeric enough to have come from the pen of Beethoven.
Barring a cruel 10-minute spell either side of half time when City allowed the Potters to get within touching distance before slamming down the accelerator so hard their collective foot when through the floor, this was utter dominance in action. Again.
It’s been this way for much of the season. Pep Guardiola won the manager of the month award for September having masterminded two 5-0 home wins and a 6-0 success at Watford. Nothing has been quite this one-sided since cartographers proclaimed the world to be flat and women were burned to a crisp on the say-so of the village idiot’s testimony alone.
Only Manchester United have been keeping pace with Guardiola’s team, but even they possess only an iota of the attacking verve and clinical edge of this City wrecking ball.
With eight games played, City have scored a frankly ludicrous 29 goals. The record haul for a single Premier League season is 103 – by Chelsea in 2009-10. That could be surpassed by Easter. City are on for 138 if they continue at their current rate.
Of course, with every thrashing notched on their bed post so critics will point to the growing divide between richer and poorer (in the loosest possible sense of the word) in English football’s top flight – and they’d be making a fine point; the greed at the game’s summit has gone full on gluttonous.
At some point you half expect the Big Six to be found in a dingy downtown New York kitchen, force fed to death on a diet of Sky Sports renewal letters, Brad Pitt hovering over the body wondering what exactly went wrong.
I digress. Yes, football has got fat – wafer-thin-mint fat – but that shouldn’t prevent us from praising this City team for what it is; a carefully put together, lovingly-oiled unit with an insatiable appetite for goals and entertainment.
Ah, there I go again. How can a team be lovingly put together when its manager throws around £200m of middle eastern money on it every transfer window?
Well, take a look at the team that ran amok against Stoke. How many were players either inherited by Guardiola when he joined or who signed last season?
Nine. Nine is the answer. And of the two who weren’t, one was goalkeeper Ederson. Guardiola might have had to invest in the depth of his squad but he’s not bought the training-ground drills that have made City the liveliest, most intelligent, fastest-thinking side in the league (whisper it… but possibly even Europe) this term.
He’s not lucked out with formations or tactics.This is the latest part of a process which looks very much like it could result in another title triumph.
This is the latest part of a process which could well end up in the creation of the finest team City fans have ever seen.
Some say it already is. What we’re seeing so far this season doesn’t offer one argument to the contrary.
Image courtesy of Goal.com.