Madrid – Agency:
Pep Guardiola saluted ‘relentless’ Manchester City on Tuesday after they clinched the ‘hardest’ of his three Premier League titles.
Guardiola’s side were crowned English champions for the third time in four seasons thanks to Manchester United’s 2-1 defeat against Leicester.
City have claimed the trophy with three games to spare, capping a remarkable surge to the silverware in the second half of the season.
Guardiola endured the worst start to his managerial career as City won only five of their first 12 league games this term.
They were hit by injuries to club-record goalscorer Sergio Aguero and influential midfielder Kevin De Bruyne, as well as a Covid-19 outbreak in the squad in December.
But Guardiola refused to let those problems derail City, leading them to his 10th major honour since taking charge at City in 2016.
Praising his players for sticking together in trying times, Guardiola said: “This has been a season and a Premier League title like no other. This was the hardest one. We will always remember this season for the way we won. I am so proud to be the manager here and of this group of players. They are so special. To come through this season, with all the restrictions and difficulties we’ve faced—and show the consistency we have is remarkable.
“It is relentless. Every single day, they are there, fighting for success, trying always to be better. They have been so, so resilient. That is equally true of each and every member of our backroom staff, who have worked tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure that our players are fully equipped to take on the unexpected challenges and new routines throughout such a turbulent year.”
‘The most important title’
City have already won the League Cup, beating Tottenham in the final in April.
They can complete a treble if they defeat Chelsea in their first Champions League final on May 29.
But Guardiola insisted the Premier League is still his most prized possession because of the demands the gruelling competition places on his team each season.
“At the start of every season, the Premier League is the most important title for us. This is the last one where you have to be there every three days, playing all your rivals home and away,” Guardiola said. “Only by being the very best, week in, week out, can you win this competition. It is a huge success. It is so important to say a huge ‘thank you’ to all our fans. In our toughest moments, we couldn’t hear the crowd get behind us as usual, but we know they are with us everywhere we go and that has lifted us.”
City captain Fernandinho is set to lift the Premier League trophy after their final game of the season against Everton on May 23.
Around 10,000 fans will be able to join the celebrations inside the Etihad Stadium for the Everton game after the latest lifting of coronavirus restrictions in England.
“I promise them (the fans) we sense their love, we appreciate it and we could not have done what we have done without it,” Guardiola said. “I hope we can all celebrate together one day not too far away. It has been such a hard year for so many people.”
Since Sheikh Mansour’s Abu Dhabi Group bought City in 2008, they have won 13 major trophies.
Guardiola dedicated their latest success to City legend Colin Bell, who helped the club win the title in 1968 and died in January aged 74. “This one is really for our fans and for Colin Bell and all his family,” he said.