Domestic Treble Would Highlight Growing Gulf Between Manchester City and United

Rob PollardFeatured ColumnistMarch 3, 2014

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 02:  (L-R) Jesus Navas and Alvaro Negredo of Manchester City pose with the trophy after the Capital One Cup Final between Manchester City and Sunderland at Wembley Stadium on March 2, 2014 in London, England.  (Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)
Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

Manuel Pellegrini woke up this morning with his first piece of major silverware since becoming a manager in Europe. He wants more.

An unprecedented domestic clean sweep is on the cards and the Chilean is desperate to make history in his first season as City boss.

The first instalment of the treble has been sealed after a 3-1 win over Sunderland at Wembley. An excellent second-half performance saw City come from behind to blitz Gus Poyet’s side, scoring three goals of real quality and demonstrating impressive mental strength after a difficult first 45 minutes where they had looked nervy.

Afterwards Pellegrini told BBC Sport:

To win the first trophy is important for us all. For the players, for me and for the staff.

We are the only club with the chance to try to win all the competitions. We are going to try although we know it is not easy.

Next up is an FA Cup quarter-final date with Wigan. It’s set to be an emotional day with former player and club legend Uwe Rosler returning in the opposition dugout, but City will only have eyes on a semi-final spot in a cup that has seriously opened up after the exits of Chelsea, Liverpool, Tottenham and Manchester United.

Arsenal remain and pose a serious threat, but City must be confident given their League Cup win and, of course, the return of Sergio Aguero, a player who provides them with a constant goal threat. His presence raises the performance level of those around him: his pace and energy infectious, his goals vital to their chances of success.

The most difficult of the three competitions to win will surely be the Premier League. Chelsea continue to grind results out when not at their best, and matching their consistency could prove to be difficult, especially with the fixture pile-up that is developing due to City’s involvement in cup competitions.

After Chelsea’s win at Fulham at the weekend, City now find themselves six points behind the West London side, albeit with two games in hand. By next weekend, with City involved in FA Cup action, that could be extended to nine points—a difficult situation if it were to transpire.

Any slip up, though, from Chelsea in their game with Tottenham would provide City with a real boost when they resume their league schedule away at Hull in two weeks' time. They would know that maximum points in their games in hand would see them return to the summit of the Premier League table.

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 02:  Manuel Pellegrini, manager of Manchester City celebrates victory with the trophy after the Capital One Cup Final between Manchester City and Sunderland at Wembley Stadium on March 2, 2014 in London, England.  (Photo by Michael
Michael Regan/Getty Images

It's an exciting time for everyone connected to the club.

All of which leaves City’s local rivals languishing as the gap between the two clubs on the field this season continues to widen. After their title win last season, United’s decline has been remarkable, with David Moyes looking more and more unqualified for the role as time goes on.

While City have a clear strategy both on and off the pitch, United appear to be foundering, directionless and chaotic in equal measure.

If they were to finish outside of the European places, which is a distinct possibility, the power shift that was ridiculed only a few short years ago would certainly be in evidence.

The League Cup is the first trophy of the Pellegrini era and it could well prove to be the catalyst for more. After the disappointment of losing last season's FA Cup final, don't underestimate the importance of Sunday's win.


Rob Pollard is Bleacher Report's lead Manchester City correspondent and will be following the club from a Manchester base throughout the 2013-14 season. Follow him on Twitter here: @RobPollard_.