Pep Guardiola’s deft introduction of a new generation at Manchester City inspired their latest English Premier League title triumph, laying the foundations for a burgeoning dynasty at the Etihad Stadium.
Guardiola’s side were crowned English champions for the third time in four seasons after Manchester United were beaten 2-1 by Leicester City on Tuesday.
City have sealed the silverware with three games to spare, regaining the trophy they were forced to surrender to Liverpool last season.
Their return to the summit is a tribute to Guardiola’s clever reshuffle of a squad that lost several important figures in the past few seasons
Vincent Kompany, Yaya Toure and David Silva left the club over the past four years after establishing themselves among the most influential players in City history.
Even this season, City’s record goalscorer, Sergio Aguero, has been phased out and is to leave in the summer.
However, rather than let the departure of the old guard serve as a death knell for City’s ambitions, Guardiola has transitioned to a new crop of stars capable of keeping his side on top for years to come.
Ruben Dias, Phil Foden and Joao Cancelo have emerged to play leading roles this season, supplementing core components Kevin de Bruyne, Kyle Walker, Bernardo Silva, Riyad Mahrez and Ederson.
Dias has been the most important addition, as he proved the perfect replacement for Kompany.
Signed from SL Benfica in September last year, the 23-year-old adapted seamlessly to the Premier League, adding physicality and leadership that brought the best out of John Stones at a time when the England defender was in danger of squandering his potential.
England playmaker Foden is at last living up to the hype after a breakthrough season.
Cancelo’s dynamic bursts from right or left back allowed City to outnumber opponents in attacking areas, providing Guardiola with a big payoff for keeping faith with the 26-year-old after an underwhelming first season following his move from Juventus.
Ilkay Gundogan’s late flowering at age 30 has been an added bonus for Guardiola, as the German midfielder’s superb form and glut of goals covered for De Bruyne’s various injury problems and a low-key year for Raheem Sterling.
Most encouragingly for Guardiola, only Walker and Gundogan have hit 30, giving him a group capable of a dynastic reign.
Ironically it was one of City’s veterans who played a vital part in their revival from an uneven first half of the season.
When City were held to a 1-1 draw by West Bromwich Albion on Dec. 15 last year, Guardiola said: “I don’t like this team.”
A lethargic training session convinced Guardiola to call on Brazilian Fernandinho for help.
Fernandinho, 35, has been City’s captain this season and Guardiola urged him to tell his teammates their efforts were not acceptable.
“I arrived at the ground the next morning ahead of training, and I said: ‘Tell Pep we’ll start training a little later today.’ It was an emergency,” Fernandinho said. “Once we got everyone together, I spoke openly. I spoke as captain. I told them what Pep had told me, that some things are inexcusable.”
It was a defining moment as City put Chelsea to the sword in their next match and have not looked back.
Kanako Murata seemed destined to represent Japan at the Tokyo Olympics as a freestyle wrestler, but that all changed when she saw MMA icon Ronda Rousey fight. “It was then that I knew what I wanted to do and I have never regretted it for a moment since,” said Murata, now a rising star with the Las Vegas-based UFC. First inspired by Japan’s Olympic wrestling queen Saori Yoshida, Murata had by her early 20s emerged as a junior world freestyle wrestling champion. Then came the night in 2015 that Murata saw the explosive American former UFC bantamweight champion Rousey in action, and
LACKING HEIGHT: With Indonesia hosting a qualifying tournament for the third-placed teams before the Asia Cup begins, Taiwan have one more opportunity to get a berth The Taiwan men’s national basketball team on Sunday lost to China 91-73, making it more difficult for the squad to qualify for the FIBA Asia Cup. The defeat at the Angeles University Foundation Gym in Pampanga Province, Philippines, followed Taiwan’s losses to China (115-66) on Thursday and Japan (98-61) on Friday. This third and final window of the qualifiers was held in a “competition bubble” to prevent the spread of COVID-19. With the loss, Taiwan (1-4) finished third in Group B, which included China, Japan and Malaysia. Third place does not automatically give them a berth in the Asia Cup, which is scheduled
Soccer fans today can tune in to cheer on several stars from the Taiwan men’s national team as Tainan TSG (Taiwan Steel Group) represent Taiwan at the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Cup qualifiers in Hong Kong. Competing with their Tainan TSG teammates are five national squad members — including midfielder Wu Chun-ching, goalkeeper Pan Wen-chieh and defender Chen Wei-chuan — who arrived in Hong Kong last week after concluding Taiwan’s run in Asia’s group stage of the FIFA World Cup qualifiers, where they had a narrow 2-1 defeat to hosts Kuwait. Wu — last season’s Most Valuable Player in the Taiwan Football
‘A LITTLE EUPHORIA’: Germany managed to turn things around before halftime, to stave off a defeat that would have left them at the brink of elimination in Group F Germany on Saturday breathed life into their Euro 2020 campaign with a stunning 4-2 win over holders Portugal in Munich, despite Cristiano Ronaldo moving closer to the all-time international goals record, after world champions France were forced to settle for a draw with Hungary. Saturday also saw Spain stumble to a 1-1 draw with Poland in Seville, as the second round of group games at the tournament drew to a close. Germany knew a defeat against Portugal at the Allianz Arena would leave them on the brink of being eliminated from Group F, following their failure to make it beyond the group