How likely are Manchester City to win the quadruple?
Manchester City are on course for four trophies this season - do they actually stand a chance of winning the Premier League, Champions League, FA Cup and League Cup?
It’s become an annual tradition: like asking if we should scrap replays or questioning whether Harry Kane’s being overplayed this season. As winter melts away and leaves begin appearing on trees, everyone collectively notices that Manchester City are still competing on four fronts.
They have the talent. They have the manager. They’ve won three of these four trophies before and a couple of them look sewn up right now. Nothing’s stopping them… right? The quadruple would be unprecedented - in the men’s game at least.
Of course, City aren’t the only English club to still be in with a shot at four trophies: Chelsea Women are also in the hunt for a quadruple…
The first trophy up, the League Cup final takes place slightly later than usual this year, as Manchester City head to Wembley again on April 25 to face Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham Hotspur.
City have won five out of the last seven editions of the tournament. Their unbelievable squad depth means that they can rotate accordingly in the early rounds, while the fact they have fewer academy prospects in their squad than the likes of Manchester United, Chelsea or Arsenal means that this isn’t a tournament they’ll blood an entire under-23 XI in. The League Cup has become Pep’s method of keeping Mahrezes and Jesuses fit and happy, while lining his cabinet with extra medals.
Unfortunately for City, Mourinho also considers this as a major trophy. With Tottenham desperate for silverware, this could be the highlight of their season - not to mention the recent meetings between Mourinho and Guardiola, which have tended to swing towards the north Londoners.
The consensus is that this is City’s cup to surrender. They’re the stronger team - but in a one-off Wembley occasion, it wouldn’t be beyond the realms of possibility for a Mourinho masterclass to blow the doors off the quadruple hopes at the first hurdle.
The league title is all but confirmed… right?
Manchester City are currently 11 points clear of second with six games remaining – though rivals Manchester United have a game in hand.
That would mean a swing of at least three defeats would be needed to change the tide at the top. Chelsea at home or Everton on the final day are probably the Citizens’ most difficult games remaining – and with their current lead, it is the fixture against Thomas Tuchel's side that would clinch the title.
EXPLAINED When can Manchester City win the Premier League title?
This would be a record slip, should City drop the ball from this position - especially as the United game has already been. The only thing that title rivals could possibly hope for right now is for an unprecedented meltdown to come over City and for them to start inexplicably throwing away points – like the game against Leeds, for instance.
Even United have conceded the title to their rivals. It's pretty much over.
Manchester City are into the last four of the FA Cup, with Chelsea their opponents in Saturday's semi-final, and either Leicester or Southampton in the final.
Again, on paper, City should probably beat any of those sides - but then that was the case when Arsenal knocked them out of the semi-finals last year. Wrapping the title up nice and early might give them a chance to put out a refreshed squad, at least. You know for a fact that Guardiola will take this competition seriously, too.
But the FA Cup is a lottery. Chelsea look a new side under Thomas Tuchel, and could even be their opponents in an all-English Champions League final.
Should they navigate that challenge, though, the final shouldn't be easy: Southampton have shocked big sides in recent times – not least City last season at St. Mary’s – while Brendan Rodgers' Leicester remain top four challengers for a reason.
If there was a case that Guardiola won his 2019 FA Cup with a slice of luck - meeting Swansea City, Brighton & Hove Albion and Watford from the quarters onwards - then this is an opportunity to prove the opposite. They’ll have at least two tough slogs left if they want to win this one.
This is the big one: the one he’s overthought over his last four years in England. Arguably, this is the biggest opportunity to win it with City yet.
The European elite are in flux. Messi and Ronaldo have been knocked out. Liverpool are out. Bayern Munich are out. Real Madrid are the final vestige of Europe's traditional elite still in the competition.
Only a semi-final with PSG stands in the way of Manchester City's first Champions League final.
City seem to have fixed a lot of the structural issues in their midfield this season that have hampered them in Europe over the last few seasons, while the attack has improved as the season has gone on.
If we're being honest though... Pep's biggest challenge in Europe is himself.
PEP GUARDIOLA Season by season in the Champions League
Guardiola last won the Champions League 10 years ago; this is the silverware that’s evaded him regardless of his opposition and many have questioned whether he overthinks the biggest crunch matches. City are favourites this time around - but they might be fighting themselves as much as everyone else.
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Mark White has been a staff writer on FourFourTwo since joining in January 2020, writing pieces for both online and the magazine. An encyclopedia of football shirts and boots knowledge – both past and present – Mark has also been to the FA Cup and League Cup finals for FFT and has written pieces for the mag ranging on subjects from Bobby Robson's season at Barcelona to Robinho's career. He once saw Tyrone Mings at a petrol station in Bournemouth but felt far too short to ask for a photo.
By Conor Pope
By Conor Pope