ETIHAD STADIUM, MANCHESTER — After one of the most unpredictable Premier League seasons in recent memory, Manchester City are champions once more after a 2-0 win over West Ham secured their second title in three years. The lead changed hands 26 times during the campaign, but it’s City who timed their surge to the top of the table to perfection and end the season in possession of two domestic trophies.
Former England international Jamie Redknapp certainly feels it was a deserved success. Writing in his column in the Mail, Redknapp said:
After 38 games of a long, hard season, the best side always wins the title and Manchester City thoroughly deserve their success.
Manuel Pellegrini has done a fantastic job in his first season in English football and he and City should be congratulated.
Manuel Pellegrini's commitment to attacking football has been rewarded in the most emphatic way possible, and he must now begin planning for next season where City will be desperate to continue their supremacy in England and progress further in the Champions League.
It’s also a victory which signals the death, once and for all, of “Typical City,” the moniker which at one time captured perfectly the club’s ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, but now appears redundant given the way they've ended the season. A side that once specialised in failure is now enveloped with a sense of belief.
This match provides the definitive proof—a home game against a side they’d lost just once to in the league in their last 13 Premier League fixtures is usually the backdrop for spectacular failure. City fans who suffered a number of desperate lows in the mid- to late-'90s have struggled to drop the past; the scars of defeats to Stockport County and York City still visible.
Yet this is a City side who have looked nothing other than determined and professional in recent weeks, seeing out the job in comfortable circumstances with vital wins over Crystal Palace, Everton, Aston Villa and West Ham crucial in their title victory. It's been incredibly unlike City, with the calm serenity that defined their final flourish in stark contrast to the title win of two seasons ago.
It’s Pellegrini’s first league title as a manager in Europe, and one which dispels the myth he lacks winning qualities. He delivered the League Cup in March and now his biggest achievement to date: a Premier League title having scored 102 goals and playing some wonderful football along the way.
Pellegrini said afterwards:
It’s not just winning titles that is important, but it’s the way you win them.
It doesn’t matter who you play, maybe it’s easy to score a goal and then go behind the ball. We have players to play on the counter-attack, they are fast and technical, but again, I’m not criticizing the way other teams play, but if it was me, I wouldn’t be happy to win in that way.
The fans enjoyed the whole season—we broke the records for the most goals scored by any team in England. It is the way we must play with the quality of players we have.
Of course I am proud to manage this group of players and this club. It’s a great honour to be the first manager from outside of Europe to win the title but I’m not the most important person.
After the negativity that engulfed the club last season under Roberto Mancini, Pellegrini's biggest achievement has been to make this group of players happy again. They've played with freedom and style, making them worthy winners of a competitive race.
Liverpool, who just a few weeks ago looked set to finish in top spot, will feel disappointed they couldn't get over the line, but it's undoubtedly been a successful season for Brendan Rodgers' men. The fanfare and triumphalism that surrounded Anfield in recent weeks, though, has turned out to be misplaced and ill-advised.
City must now avoid falling into the same malaise that stifled their progress after their league win in 2012. That summer, with Mancini desperate to add two or three top-quality signings to his squad, City’s transfer activity was two-dimensional, stagnating their development and causing them to fall 11 points behind Manchester United in what was a weak defence of a title which took so much to win.
However, with Txiki Begiristain now driving the club’s transfer strategy and off-field direction, there are few doubts complacency will set in this time. Last summer he orchestrated a swift, well-thought-out recruitment process in conjunction with Pellegrini that reinvented a flagging squad, and a repeat will further consolidate their position as England's top side.
With the Etihad Campus set open this summer, and with the club’s infrastructure now first-class, the future for City is incredibly positive. Their revenue is now the sixth-highest in Europe, and there is a sense of focus and direction in every area at the Etihad.
Some have suggested Sheikh Mansour hasn't seen enough return on the huge investment he has made since 2008, or that his City have, in some ways, flattered to deceive. However, two Premier League titles, an FA Cup and a League Cup, as well as a huge increase in the club’s revenue, suggests otherwise.
The future at City is very bright indeed, and with Pellegrini in charge, beautiful football is a foregone conclusion.
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_.