Manchester City have won their second Premier League title in three years. With the wealth of the club, it’s easy to jump in and claim that innumerable trophies are on the horizon, that a dynasty is being built.
But it isn’t always that simple. The right pieces need to be in place. We’ve seen questions of dynasties come up well away from European football.
The Miami Heat could win their third straight NBA title this season, but it hasn’t been straightforward. They lost their first NBA final after LeBron James had been signed, and they haven’t exactly been flawless this year.
The NHL hasn’t seen a dynasty since the eighties; it hasn’t seen a back-to-back Stanley Cup champion since the Detroit Red Wings won it in 1997 and 1998.
Closer to home, and the easy assumption would have been that Florentino Perez’s first Galactico movement would have swept up league titles and landed La Decima, the tenth European Cup, with ease.
Dynasty may be a long shot when talking about Manchester City for now. Juventus have just won their third title, while Barcelona are the most well-known in recent history, and oddly they could add their fifth La Liga title in six seasons if they beat Atletico Madrid this Saturday. But we mainly attribute Barcelona’s great period to the four years in which Pep Guardiola was coach.
Manchester City can be a success, and success for them is only measured by how many titles they bring home. But there also has to be an analysis of the manager. Is the manager one of the right pieces for the puzzle?
Manuel Pellegrini, at 60, finally landed his first league title as a manager in Europe. Some may say that he’s been a victim of unfortunate timing. While he was at Real Madrid, he secured the club their highest points tally in La Liga up until that point, but was beaten to the title by Guardiola’s Barcelona. On top of that, he and Real crashed out of the Champions League knockout phase at the first hurdle to Lyon. In Italy, Jose Mourinho would go on to land the treble with Inter Milan. No coach has done that for Madrid, but the focus was on Mourinho’s success in Europe.
It’s also worth looking at Pellegrini’s time with Villarreal. His successes in the Champions League (and also with Malaga) have been much publicised, but he did once guide the Yellow Submarine to second place in La Liga, 10 points ahead of Barcelona.
Pellegrini was unfashionable at Real Madrid and never accepted. With City, he’s exactly what they’re looking for to uphold those “holistic” values.
Pellegrini has been known for incredible feats of accomplishment with limited resources – and Malaga’s adventure deep into the Champions League was during a time of financial uncertainty – so his winning of the Premier League title with Manchester City this past weekend shouldn’t have been much of a surprise.
Despite what City’s designs are on the Champions League, the first obstacle to overcome is in retaining the league title.
It’s probably the most uncertain period in the Premier League’s history. Manchester United have fallen away and need to be built back up; Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea may come back a stronger force next season, though with the Portuguese you never know; and then there’s the added threat of Liverpool and Arsenal.
It’s an uncertain period for the Premier League, but one Manchester City can capitalise on.
The question is whether City themselves can capitalise on the good they have. Every club is in danger of tripping itself up when it initially appears impossible to do so. City’s lacklustre effort in the market following their title win under Roberto Mancini is an example, so too is the fiery atmosphere the Italian created.
Dynasty is too long a projection to hold in English football, or anywhere in Europe. Success breeds further success, in theory, and Pellegrini is good enough, with the right people around him. Before setting too high a marker, the next target, the realistic target, is retaining the league title.
After that, lay down the next building block.