Where Does Guardiola Rank as One of the Premier League GOATs?

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Sir Alex out on his own, but who is next?

As a 13-time winner of the Premier League, Sir Alex Ferguson will deservedly go down as the greatest manager in Premier League history and whilst many managers have dominated for a number of years, the Manchester United legend dominated for a generation and changed the way managers work in English football.

The competition has also seen a whole host of other monumental managers, with a total of 11 different managers having lifted the famous title. Manchester City’s current boss Pep Guardiola is chasing his third title this season, a tally that would equal that of the great Arsene Wenger and Jose Mourinho, who won titles at Arsenal and Chelsea, respectively.

With the Catalan looking to win his third title in five years, and with his name already plastered across the Premier League record books, surely now it’s time to consider him as one of the GOATs in this division. But, where does Guardiola rank amongst the Premier League’s best?

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Guardiola v the rest: Similar patterns, but statistically, there is one clear winner

When Guardiola came to England, expectations were high, which tends to be the case when you join a club of the wealth of City and break record after record in Spain and Germany. He had joined off the back of three successive Bundesliga titles with Bayern Munich, gaining plaudits from German pundits for introducing a brand new style of football to the country’s top league.

Before that, he had won 14 major honours during a four-year tenure at Barcelona, which remains arguably the most dominant and best team in football history, all of which established Guardiola as one of the greatest ever before even joining the Etihad.

Guardiola has so far picked up eight honours since moving to Manchester in 2016, compared to the four that Arsene Wenger picked up in his first five years at Arsenal. Jose Mourinho managed six trophies in his first spell at Chelsea, but left the club by mutual consent just a month into his third season. This perhaps is an argument that works in Guardiola’s favour, as he has now been at City longer than his previous reigns at Barcelona and Bayern, meaning that he has been fully able to create a project and dominate and it is looking like continuing.

Mourinho, on the other hand, delivered short term success, winning the league in his first two seasons at the club, but did not stick around for long enough to reclaim the title for a third successive time, which only Ferguson has been able to do.

In fact, Mourinho's Chelsea career back in 2007 came to an abrupt end with Chelsea struggling to defend their title and to make matters worse for him, the Blues would go onto reach the Champions League final in his absence that season - Mourinho had previously only taken Chelsea to the semi-finals.

Furthermore, Guardiola’s greatest City achievement to date would be setting the record for points obtained in a single season in English top flight football. In the 2017/18 season, the Sky Blues earned 100 points, beating the record set by Mourinho’s Chelsea in 2005, when they earned 95 and finished 12 points ahead of second-placed Arsenal.

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Are 'The Centurions' the Greatest We've Seen?

No other side in Premier League history has managed City's 100-point feat, placing that side among the elite sides of the past across Europe and arguably the greatest in the history of English football. This is crucial for Guardiola's argument, as the other top managers in the league’s history all have a famous side to go alongside their achievements. Wenger has his Invincibles, Ferguson has the treble-winners and Mourinho has his 2005 Chelsea side.

Guardiola’s Centurions played a stylish brand of football that could be argued has never been outperformed, transforming the standards required to win the Premier League, and statistically speaking, nobody comes close to this City team in terms of goals scored and games won. Another strength for Pep is his ability to build and rebuild his squad in his image. A lot has been made of the money City have spent on defensive recruitments, but his signings have often proved to be massively successful, and whilst not other clubs have this budget, each signing has been tactical and sensible.

Within their current squad, City have defenders worth a combined total of over £360m. This is a huge amount, of course, however, it shows the depths that they are willing to go to back their manager. When Guardiola first took the job, he identified which players he wanted to keep and which areas he wanted to improve and with the likes of Ruben Dias turning into one of Europe's very best already, Pep's tactical transfers continuing to break new ground, evident in their record-breaking 15 wins in a row.

The most notable omissions from his side were Joe Hart and Yaya Toure, who had both enjoyed great careers at the Etihad before Pep’s arrival. Although the first successor for Hart, Claudio Bravo, was not a particular improvement, City’s current stopper Ederson is perhaps the best ball-playing keeper in the world today. Once again, this demonstrates Guardiola joining a team and moulding it to his own image, much like Wenger and Mourinho had done before him.

Yes, the ex-Barcelona manager has had it easier given the budget and already wealthy foundations, but as Roberto Mancini, Manuel Pellegrini and plenty of ex-Chelsea managers have proved, it's not as easy as it looks.

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Does he need just a few more seasons?

Looking to the future, Guardiola doesn’t have a history of staying at clubs for an extended period of time, but he is under contract until 2023 and by each day he stays at the Etihad, he is setting his own record of time spent at one club as a manager.

If a third Premier League title can be met with a much-desired Champions League, then this will only strengthen his claims to jump ahead of the great managers before him as one of the greatest that the Premier League has ever seen.

With the current crop of City stars all looking like they’re heading into their prime, plus a 20-year-old Phil Foden who looks better every game, there is no reason why City can’t cement themselves as the dominant force in English football once again and why Guardiola can't finally submit himself as the greatest we've ever seen behind Ferguson.

Put it this way, we've classed Liverpool as one of the best teams of all-time, and just like Guardiola did at Barcelona when Real Madrid triumph one season, the Spaniard has already returned to the top against a record-breaking team.


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