'City's centurions have set new standards for the Premier League'

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Just as it looked as if Manchester City’s quest to reach the promised land was about to fall short, up stepped Gabriel Jesus to send players, fans and staff alike into a state of ecstasy.

Saints, St. Mary’s and Jesus – the finish was heavenly and it just had to be, didn’t it?

14th May 2018

In very similar circumstances to the reverse meeting at the Etihad earlier in the season, Southampton put up a fight not in correlation with their lowly league position but were ultimately denied any reward right at the last – last time through Raheem Sterling and this time through the Brazilian, Jesus.

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Stars aligned once more with another near replication of events, as the Blues' late, late victory on the final day was slightly reminiscent of their first title triumph – with another infamous last-ditch goal sealing what was required against a Mark Hughes-led opponent, who themselves needed results to go their way to avoid dropping down into the Championship.

Ultimately, to the relief of Southampton's fans, the defeat meant little, having seen Swansea unable to overturn a significant goal difference disadvantage, leaving the hosts' Premier League safety unaffected.

The crowning glory of becoming the first team in the history of English football to reach 100 points with the last kick of the game was the perfect finale to an almost unimaginable season for the Blues.

Champions for a third time and more emphatic than ever, City can now head off to a summer of content and start preparing to defend their crown – something that has been beyond their reaches in both of the previous two attempts. 

Has this season been a success?

Yes, undoubtedly – and to a level that even the most optimistic must be pleasantly surprised. Pep Guardiola has firmly found his feet in his second season in charge and has brought with him a style – and quality – of play that City fans have not seen the likes of before.

Records have tumbled, trophies have been sealed and - despite a couple of disappointing results in showpiece fixtures - the consistency and calibre of performance has gone above and beyond what was expected at the beginning of the campaign.

If a domestic double, as well as sealing the most points ever, the most goals ever and biggest title-winning margin ever isn’t a success – then I don’t know what could be considered one?

Are you happy with your manager?

In the words of the Spaniard himself, “so, so happy.”

Questions and doubts were raised as to how the rigours of Premier League life would affect Guardiola, having just suffered his first trophyless season as a manager, but the retort has been nothing short of emphatic.

It is clear that the owners and hierarchy have grander dreams than just domestic domination and that is the job that Pep was brought in to do, but the progression is evident and with more time at the helm, I think few would argue that a European crown is in the offing in the not too distant future. 

What should be the club's priority in the transfer market this summer?

With an albeit less influential Yaya Toure departing and Fernandinho set to be another year older, central midfield would probably be Guardiola’s main cause of concern heading in to the summer.

In terms of creativity and attacking nous, there is more than enough to satisfy the manager, but he will be looking for defensive reassurance in the centre of the park to complement his front-foot style of play.

Rumours of Shakhtar’s Fred will not go away and Napoli’s Jorginho has also been touted as a potential arrival, but whoever does make the switch to Eastlands will be under immense pressure to live up to the standards that City’s unsung hero, Fernandinho, has delivered with tremendous regularity.

The only other potential void that may be a priority is a back-up goalkeeper to Ederson.

Despite the manager’s allegiances, with Claudio Bravo still not able to prove himself capable of delivering with any reliability, any potential injuries or ailments to City’s no. 1 could prove the difference between success and failure – as has been witnessed in the difference between this season and the one previous.

READ MORE: Seven of the worst Premier League loan signings

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What do you want to aim for next season?

First and foremost, a title defence.

Following both of City’s previous Premier League triumphs, their attempts at regaining the title have fallen short.

For all the deserved plaudits that have come in their direction this time around, to be considered one of the greatest sides in recent memory, there has to be a consistent level of success that goes beyond just a solitary campaign.

Beyond that, a further tilt at the Champions League will be the aim of both manager and squad.

This season’s exodus at the hands of Liverpool was understandably disappointing and will be seen as a missed opportunity – and it has long been known that the board’s grandest desire goes beyond this season’s honours, with their eyes firmly fixed on the continent.

Guardiola’s arrival in Manchester was to guarantee that, as best as possible, and expectations will have risen following what has been witnessed this year.

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