Pep Guardiola was eulogised on Monday for his relentless hunger for success that propelled Manchester City to a second consecutive Premier League title after a titanic battle with Liverpool.
Guardiola claimed his eighth league title in 10 seasons as a coach in charge of Barcelona, Bayern Munich and City as the English champions followed up their record 100-point campaign last season with another stunning 98-point season thanks to a 4-1 victory at Brighton.
That meant Liverpool’s long wait for a first league title since 1990 continued despite the Reds posting the third-highest Premier League points tally ever with 97 after they beat Wolves 2-0 on Sunday.
“Pep’s party,” ran the headline in the Guardian newspaper. “The only real world star in this set-up is the manager.
“They didn’t go for (Cristiano) Ronaldo or (Lionel) Messi but invested in fine young players, almost all of whom have been pushed to the outer levels of their talent.”
City became the first side in a decade to retain the title as Guardiola’s demands ensured there was no drop-off at the Etihad as has happened in the seasons that followed title wins under Roberto Mancini and Manuel Pellegrini.
“Manchester City could buy great players, good enough to take them up the mountain, but they could never stay there. Because you cannot buy hunger, the sustaining daily hunger that drove the greatest teams of other eras,” said the Independent.
“Senior officials at City say that they have never seen as much focus and character from a City side in the modern era as what they have seen this season.
“This is the opposite of what we have come to expect from champion City sides. And it is a vindication of the daily intensity and demands of their obsessive manager.”
Liverpool, whose season could still end in glory if they win the Champions League next month, were also praised for the contribution they made to a thrilling race.
“Nothing underscores the brilliance of Pep Guardiola’s team more than the presence of Liverpool a short neck behind. Liverpool are, without doubt, one of the greatest teams the competition has ever seen,” said the Daily Mail.
“Encapsulating this campaign is a battle of superlatives. Liverpool were amazingly good. Incredibly, City were even better.”
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said this season is just the beginning of a journey for his side, but in their three-decade wait to win the league, the Reds have finished second before and failed to build on it the following season.
“They’re entitled to wonder, given that they’ve pulled one of the most stupendous league campaigns in history and still fallen short, what more can be done?” added the Independent.
Klopp pointed to City’s financial power, backed by the club’s Abu Dhabi owners, as a principal reason why they will not be easy to overhaul.
However, unlike Manchester United, who ended the season as close to the relegation zone as they were to City, 32 points behind the champions in sixth, City have invested their money wisely.
“More than half a billion pounds lavished on one of the most expensive and brilliant squads ever assembled. But we only have to look down the road at Manchester United to know that you can pour millions down the drain,” said The Times.
“The danger, when City have smashed so many records in two years of domestic domination — 198 league points from a possible 228, 19 domestic cup ties won out of 20 — is that it is regarded as easy, normal, expected. Those figures suggest a relentless machine.
“It is in watching Guardiola on the sidelines that we see the stress, the agony, the pressure that has been relentless since setting out last August, requiring 18 wins out of 19 since Christmas to stay ahead of Jurgen Klopp’s brilliant Liverpool.”