Which was Manchester City’s greatest Premier League-winning campaign?
2019-06-05 10:59:39

Which was Manchester City’s greatest Premier League-winning campaign?

Which was Manchester City’s greatest Premier League-winning campaign?

After a dramatic and emotional final round of matches, Manchester City have once again been crowned Premier League champions. Pep Guardiola’s relentless side have become the first team to retain the Premier League for ten years, pipping runners-up Liverpool to the post by a single-point margin.

It’s fair to say that City have gotten quite accustomed to league success - after many decades in the wilderness, the boys from the Etihad have clinched four Premier League titles since breaking their duck in the 2011-12 season, and each of those magical years is etched in the memory of Blues fans for different reasons.

But which of these Premier League-winning seasons was truly the most special of them all? Here, we look at some key stats and moments from each of the club’s victorious Premier League campaigns, and try to pick out the one that will live longest in City folklore...

2011-12

   

Played

W

D

L

GF

GA

GD

Points

1

Manchester City

38

28

5

5

93

29

+64

89

2

Manchester United

38

28

5

5

89

33

+56

89

3

Arsenal

38

21

7

10

74

49

+25

70

No Manchester City fan will need any reminding of what made the 2011-12 season so incredible. The club’s first league title in 44 years was won in the most dramatic fashion imaginable, with Roberto Mancini’s gutsy side going toe-to-toe with fierce local rivals Manchester United all season, before coming from behind to score a championship-winning goal in the dying seconds of their final league match against Queens Park Rangers.

The opposition

2011-12 provided City fans with something that none of their other championship-winning seasons has provided - an opportunity to outdo a Manchester United side at the peak of their powers, under the leadership of their long-time nemesis, Sir Alex Ferguson.

Fergie was coming to the end of his glittering managerial career and was determined not to let United’s “noisy neighbours” make a breakthrough in the league, but Mancini’s men proved more than equal to the challenge, beating United in both Premier League encounters, including an unprecedented 6-1 trouncing of the Red Devils at Old Trafford.

United ran City close all year, but the Blues eventually emerged victorious on goal difference alone - and the moment was all the sweeter for it.

Stars of the season

Many of the brightest stars of the modern City era really made their names in 2011-12, with captain fantastic Vincent Kompany winning the Premier League Player of the Season award for his stalwart performances in defence.

The likes of Edin Džeko and Mario “Why Always Me?” Balotelli also chipped in with some of their best ever goalscoring performances for City, while goalkeeper Joe Hart and midfielders David Silva and Yaya Touré also made the PFA Team of the Year.

However, the undoubted star man was such a standout performer that he deserves his own section...

The Agüero factor

Sergio Agüero is unquestionably one of Manchester City’s all-time great players. The Argentine striker has been City’s top scorer for all competitions in every season since he signed in 2011, and became the club’s all-time top goalscorer in 2017 - but any fan will tell you that it was the 2011-12 season that made him a legend.

“Kun” racked up 23 league goals in his debut season in Manchester, but none will be remembered as vividly as his 94th-minute winner against QPR on the final day, wrenching the title from Manchester United’s clutches and putting the seal on the greatest ever finale to a Premier League season.

Other competitions

City’s last-minute Premier League title win helped to transform perceptions of what otherwise might have ended up as a trophyless season of disappointment for Mancini’s men. The club were dispatched from the League Cup at the semi-final stage by Liverpool, while Manchester United twice defeated them 3-2 to stop them from winning the FA Cup and Community Shield.

Additionally, the side underperformed somewhat in Europe, exiting the Champions League at the group stage, before falling to Sporting Lisbon in the Europa League in the round of 16.

Points won and goals scored

City’s 89-point haul was their best ever top-flight total at the time, while their 93 goals scored and 29 conceded meant they achieved the best offensive and defensive performances of the year.

With Joe Hart claiming the Golden Glove for his 17 clean sheets, the only slight blemish on the season’s stats was that Sergio Agüero wasn’t quite able to claim Golden Boot, coming third behind Arsenal’s Robin van Persie and United’s Wayne Rooney.

Moments of the season

So many of City’s defining modern moments came from 2011-12 that it’s hard to list them all, from the 6-1 away demolition of United in front of a stunned Old Trafford early in the season, to Vincent Kompany’s decisive winner in the return fixture months later that helped to wipe out the eight-point lead United had built up.

But inevitably, there’s really only one choice for the best moment of the year. Say it with us now...

“AGÜEROOOOO!!!!!!”

2013-14

   

Played

W

D

L

GF

GA

GD

Points

1

Manchester City

38

27

5

6

102

37

+65

86

2

Liverpool

38

26

6

6

101

50

+51

84

3

Chelsea

38

25

7

6

71

27

+44

82

City’s second league title came under Manuel Pellegrini in 2013-14, a year in which the Blues had to fend of a ferocious challenge from a resurgent Liverpool side. The resulting title race saw both of the top two sides score more than 100 goals, but in the end City’s greater consistency won out, and Pellegrini’s men were ultimately able to edge Liverpool out by two points.

The opposition

With the old enemy Manchester United in freefall after the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson, Brendan Rodgers’ swashbuckling Liverpool team stepped up to fill the void, relying on an all-guns-blazing attacking approach and the brilliance of striker Luis Suárez to compensate for well-documented defensive frailties.

Liverpool proved to be fierce but ultimately fragile competitors - although it seemed they had swung the momentum of the title race in their favour with victory over City at Anfield in April, their defensive shortcomings cost them to drop crucial points, allowing the Blues to ease into top spot with a run of five wins to close out the season.

Stars of the season

Many of City’s trusted stalwarts performed admirably during this season, with Vincent Kompany once again making the PFA Team of the Year, but 2013-14 will be best remembered as a banner year for the Ivorian midfield dynamo Yaya Touré.

With 20 Premier League goals, Touré emerged as City’s top scorer, becoming only the second midfielder to pass the 20-goal mark in a Premier League season. This led to the player being named as BBC and CAF African Footballer of the Year - though Touré’s joy was subsequently tempered by a bizarre dispute that almost saw him leave City over an alleged failure by the club to wish him a happy birthday.

Fortunately, this “crisis” was soon resolved, and Touré remained with City for four more seasons. All’s well that ends well!

 

The Agüero factor

By Sergio’s sky-high standards in sky blue, 2013-14 was an off year, as injuries limited the striker to only 23 league appearances, coming second in City’s Premier League scoring table with 17 goals.

Nevertheless, even in a disrupted year, the 11 goals Agüero recorded in other competitions meant that he was once again able to finish the year as the club’s overall leading scorer.

Other competitions

City experienced mixed fortunes in non-Premier League competition in 2013-14, exiting the FA Cup after a home defeat to Wigan Athletic and experiencing a chastening 4-1 aggregate loss to Barcelona in the Champions League round of 16.

However, a 3-1 victory in the League Cup final over Sunderland helped to soften that blow considerably, and made sure that City were able to finish the season with two trophies in hand for the first time since 1969-70.

Points won and goals scored

City’s final points total of 86 was a slight step down from their previous title-winning campaign, but their 102-goal haul was the second-highest in Premier League history at the time, with one more goal scored than their famously prolific rivals over at Anfield that year.

The City duo of Touré and Agüero weren’t quite able to keep up with the Liverpool strike partnership of Luis Suárez and Daniel Sturridge at the top of the year-end scoring charts - but they still scored enough to ensure that they, alongside Edin Džeko, helped City to become the first Premier League team with three players each scoring more than 15 league goals in a single season.

Moments of the season

2013-14 may have lacked the iconic moments of 2011-12, but there was still much for City fans to cherish as Pellegrini’s team turned around a patchy start to the season - with four defeats in the opening 11 games - to go undefeated from November to February. This spell included a 2-1 comeback victory against Liverpool that would eventually prove pivotal in the long run.

Throw in a pair of drubbings (4-1 at home, 3-0 away) for a dishevelled Manchester United outfit who would eventually finish seventh, and it’s little wonder this free-scoring City season is recalled so fondly.

2017-18

   

Played

W

D

L

GF

GA

GD

Points

1

Manchester City

38

32

4

2

106

27

+79

100

2

Manchester United

38

25

6

7

68

28

+40

81

3

Tottenham Hotspur

38

23

8

7

74

36

+38

77

Manchester City broke through as a team of champions under Mancini and consolidated under Pellegrini, but it was Pep Guardiola who turned them into all-time greats. 2017-18 was a cakewalk for Guardiola’s men, who steamrollered the competition to set a new points record and wrap up the title in mid-April - simply put, this was the standard that all future champions will be measured by.

The opposition

Although Manchester United finished second in 2017-18, it would honestly be a stretch to call them “competition” in this context. City moved into top spot on September 16th with a 6-0 win over Watford, and remained there for the entirety of the league campaign, thanks in large part to a record-breaking spell of 18 consecutive wins from August to late December.

José Mourinho’s United side were City’s closest challengers, and managed to inflict one of only two defeats suffered by Guardiola’s men that year, but the eventual 19-point gap between the sides was the biggest winning margin in Premier League history - underlining just how much of a one-horse race this season really was.

Stars of the season

In this record-breaking year, it was hard to find City players performing at anything less than their best. Young players like Raheem Sterling, Gabriel Jesus and Leroy Sané all hit double figures in terms of league goals, while Brazilian keeper Ederson solved the goalkeeping problems City had been suffering in past years since the decline of Joe Hart.

However, few players made a bigger impression than German playmaker Kevin de Bruyne, whose eight goals and 16 assists in the league reflected his status as the beating heart of City’s creative play. He was named as City’s player of the year, and cemented his position as one of the most admired footballers in Europe.

The Agüero factor

Despite injuries and increased competition for places limiting him to only 25 league appearances, 2017-18 was still a notable year for Agüero, who notched 21 goals to rank third in the overall league scoring charts, and number one among City players.

Kun made maximum use of his more limited playing time, racking up three hat-tricks, the most of any player that year. Even more significantly, he was able to bag his 178th goal for City during a Champions League tie with Napoli, which confirmed the Argentinean as City’s all-time highest goalscorer, overtaking a record set by Eric Brook 78 years previously.

Other competitions

City may have conquered all before them in the Premier League in 2017-18, but they didn’t have it all their own way in the other competitions to quite the same extent. Their FA Cup run was ended once again by Wigan Athletic - their third loss to the Latics in this competition in six years - while their Champions League ambitions were curtailed early again, following an aggregate 5-1 defeat at the hands of their recurrent Premier League nemeses Liverpool.

Once again, the League Cup proved a significant consolation, with City comfortably beating Arsenal 3-0 in the final to win the cup for a third time in five years.

Points won and goals scored

City’s 100-point total in the league was five higher than Chelsea’s previous record of 95, and seems likely to stand for a long time to come. Indeed, City just couldn’t stop breaking records that year, achieving a new benchmark for goals scored (106) and goal difference (+79), as well as records for consecutive games unbeaten in the league (30) and total wins in a single season (32).

Given the team’s unprecedented goalscoring feats, it seems surprising that City did not claim the Golden Boot that year, with Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah and Tottenham’s Harry Kane both outscoring Agüero - but this only underlines the sheer number of goals distributed throughout this remarkable team.

Moments of the season

2017-18 was a year of such sustained brilliance that it’s hard to pick a moment out. The consecutive 5-0, 6-0 and 5-0 victories over Liverpool, Watford and Crystal Palace respectively in September demonstrated early on that Guardiola meant business, while stoppage time winners by Raheem Sterling against Southampton and Bournemouth showed that this City side were willing and able to dig deep when necessary.

However, for sheer joy, few moments can beat the celebrations that followed Gabriel Jesus’ 94th-minute strike in City’s final game against Southampton, with Guardiola’s raucous celebrations showing just how much hitting that (possibly unassailable!) 100-point record meant to the whole team.

2018-19

   

Played

W

D

L

GF

GA

GD

Points

1

Manchester City

38

32

2

4

95

23

+72

98

2

Liverpool

38

30

7

1

89

22

+67

97

3

Arsenal

38

21

9

8

63

39

+24

72

In 2018-19, City almost matched their record-breaking points total from the previous year, but the story of the season was very different - instead of an uncontested cakewalk, Guardiola’s men were run close all the way by a dogged Liverpool side, with the title race going right down to the wire. Ultimately, though, it was City who edged it, meaning they became the first team to retain the Premier League title since Manchester United in 2008-09.

The opposition

The quality of the opposition is what has made City’s latest title victory feel particularly special. After blowing the competition away in 2017-18, the Blues faced a huge challenge this year in the form of Jürgen Klopp’s resurgent Liverpool, who lost only one game all season and at one point took a seven-point lead over Guardiola’s reigning champions.

Reeling Liverpool back in required tremendous character from City, and a 14-game winning streak to close out the season meant the Blues were able to take the title by a whisker, despite Liverpool amassing 97 points - a high enough total to win all but one of the previous Premier League seasons.

Stars of the season

This season has seen a number of new heroes emerge for City, with Bernardo Silva cementing himself as a new fixture of the midfield and Aymeric Laporte shining in central defence, while local youngster Phil Foden marked himself out as one to watch for the future.

It’s Raheem Sterling, though, who truly came of age in the last year, cropping up with 17 goals in the league at crucial, decisive moments, while becoming a respected and passionate spokesperson for important social issues off the pitch to boot. Few would argue that his PFA and FWA Young Player of the Year awards were anything other than richly deserved - not even the most bitter Liverpool fan!

The Agüero factor

Regular as clockwork, Agüero was City’s top scorer for the year once again, with 21 goals. During the season, he became only the ninth player in history to reach 150 goals in the Premier League, while breaking Tommy Johnson and Eric Brook's record of 158 league goals for the club, and equalled Alan Shearer’s record of 11 Premier League hat-tricks.

Perhaps most importantly, Kun signed a new contract with City that will keep him at the club until 2021, which will give him plenty of time to take down the few remaining records he has left to break!

Other competitions

In years to come, 2018-19 may be remembered as the season where City made the leap from being a great team to becoming a true footballing dynasty, and their capture of an unprecedented domestic treble will be seen as the biggest step forward.

Not only was success in the Premier League accompanied by a fourth League Cup win in six years, but a smooth (and blissfully Wigan-free!) run in the FA Cup ultimately culminated in a 6-0 demolition of Watford in the final, making City the first English team to ever win all three domestic competitions in the same season.

In fact, the only blemish on an otherwise faultless year was the Champions League heartbreak against Tottenham Hotspur, who edged City out at the quarter-final stage after what would have been a last-minute hat-trick winner from Raheem Sterling was cruelly overturned by VAR. That narrow defeat was all that prevented City from competing for a historic quadruple - but, given their dominance on all other fronts, who would bet against the Blues going one better next year?

Points won and goals scored

City’s 98-point total might not quite have reached last year’s benchmark, but their 198-point haul over two seasons absolutely cements their status as a team at the peak of their powers, particularly given the increased competition.

Sergio Agüero fell one short of the 22-goal mark reached by the league’s top scorers - Arsenal’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and the Liverpool duo of Sadio Mané and Mohamed Salah - but City were once again the overall top-scoring team on 95 goals, combining hard-fought single-goal victories with some incredible routs, including a memorable 6-0 destruction of Chelsea.

Moments of the season

The 2018-19 season came down to the finest margins, from Agüero’s barely-over-the-line winner in a high-pressure game away at Burnley in late April, to the hard-fought 2-1 win over Liverpool at the Etihad, which tipped the momentum back in City’s direction after Klopp’s men had threatened to build an unassailable lead.

But for pure drama, nothing can beat the moment of magic that City’s inspirational departing captain Vincent Kompany conjured against Leicester in his final appearance at the Etihad Stadium. Struggling to break down dogged opposition and at risk of dropping crucial points to hand the initiative back to Liverpool, Kompany rode to his team’s rescue one last time with a 30-yard screamer into the top corner - a goal that most will see as the moment that City truly won the title.

 

Which was the best?

With such an embarrassment of riches to choose from, picking out City’s best ever title win will always be a subjective choice. For every fan arguing in favour of Pellegrini-era City’s tussle with free-scoring Liverpool, there’ll be others who see Guardiola’s record 100-point salute as the pinnacle of sky blue achievement.

For us, it’s a close toss-up between the most recent championship-winning campaign and their historic first Premier League title in 2011-12. Even though the 2018-19 vintage didn’t quite match the previous year’s points total, securing the first ever domestic treble wrote a permanent place in the history books for Guardiola’s current City side, and potentially lays the foundation for years of domestic dominance to come.

In terms of sheer excellence, 2018-19 was a genuinely unprecedented achievement for City - and yet, in an era when City’s supremacy has come to feel expected, perhaps the rollercoaster romance of that first championship win will never truly be matched. Ending a four-decade drought against Sir Alex Ferguson’s United, clawing back an eight-point deficit, the madness of that 6-1 Old Trafford annihilation… and, of course, the single greatest season finale in Premier League history? These are moments that any City fan will remember for their whole lives, and it’s hard to think of anything - short of maybe a last-minute Agüero winner Champions League final - that could ever match them!

Top TOFFS products for Man City fans

If you’re a proud City fan looking to show your pride in the wake of another glorious season, TOFFS has a full range of retro Man City football shirts and memorabilia that will allow you to do just that!

Here are some of the best old-school City products we have available:

 

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