Will Man City be lauded as one of England’s greatest-ever teams?

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It is quite likely that Manchester City will become the first-ever men’s team in English soccer history to complete a domestic treble.

But will that feat be celebrated and revered? It’s unlikely people will be shouting praise from the rooftops for Pep’s Guardiola’s side, even though they would have won five of the last six trophies available in England.

Yet Guardiola has created one of the greatest team English soccer has ever seen. They won the Premier League last season by racking up a record 100 points and they defended that title this season with another incredible total of 98 points to pip Liverpool to the trophy on the final day of the season.

They achieved that while playing mind-blowing soccer as they totally dominated opponents week in, week out by keeping the ball and unleashing their devastating attackers seemingly at will. The best compliment you can pay to City is that watching them is an event. You know you are going to be entertained and treated to incredible skill, trickery and guile when you watch them play.

But there’s a growing sense that this Man City team is so good that they are actually being under appreciated. Winning four PL titles in the last eight seasons, it’s easy to see why City winning trophies has become commonplace. But to win in the way they have done surely has to count for more, and even if that elusive UEFA Champions League title continues to evade them, they have to be considered one of the greatest teams in European history, let alone English history. If and when they win the UCL, some of the doubters will surely change their tune.

Ahead of their FA Cup final against Watford at Wembley on Saturday, Guardiola summed up the feeling surrounding Man City perfectly.

“If Liverpool win the Premier League it is an incredible achievement. Man City win and it’s ‘OK’, it is an achievement. It is what it is,” Guardiola said as he smiled. “Only thing I can say is that we won the most incredible Premier League season ever, in terms of results, in terms of competitors. We are incredibly satisfied.”

City’s fans and everyone connected with the club are more than satisfied, but remarkably the jury still seems out from the wider soccer world.

Amid yet another investigation from UEFA into alleged financial fair play breaches (the results of this latest investigation could see City banned from European competition for at least one season) there is a growing negative vibe around what City have achieved.

Of course, their incredible rise has been fuelled by the huge wealth of Sheikh Mansour and wouldn’t have been possible without that huge injection of cash. Because of that, a la PSG there always seems to be an asterisk next to City’s name when it comes to the trophies they’ve won. It is easy to splash cash and waste it (ahem, Man United), so money truly isn’t everything even at the top level. There still needs to be a plan in place and exceptionally talented individuals, such as Guardiola, to lead it.

But when we look back in 20 years time, if City do complete the domestic treble this weekend, will they go down alongside Sir Alex Ferguson‘s Manchester United teams, Bill Shankly’s legendary Liverpool squads, Brian Clough’s Nottingham Forest, the best Arsenal teams under Arsene Wenger and Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea (first time around) as one of the best teams in English history?

“If in 10, 15, 20 years the people talk about this team it is because we were a really good team. It is like a book or a movie which sustains its place in time that after 25 years people watch the same movie or read the same book,” Guardiola said when questioned by Pro Soccer Talk. “In maybe 25 years time people will say these guys earned a lot of points in one period but they played really well, that is because we deserved to be alongside the biggest Man United, the biggest Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal or whoever. Now is not the time…

“The big competitors are like this. They are never satisfied. They never have the feeling that it is enough. In tennis, basketball, golf, they want more and more. That is why the second title, going back-to-back, showed me this kind of thing. You know? It showed me that it was not enough to get 100 points (last season) and it could be enough. But it wasn’t. We did it. That is why we are champions.”

Pep knows that even though City are on the verge of being the most successful English team in domestic history in a single season, and doing that in a swashbuckling style, there is still a sense of ‘so what?’ about their success.

Chairman Mubarak: Other clubs are ‘jealous’ of Man City’s success

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Manchester City chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak believes that other clubs — namely those who have fallen miles back of the back-to-back Premier League champions — are “jealous” of the club’s success.

[ MORE: Chelsea’s N’Golo Kante to miss Europa League final with new injury ]

The root of the perceived jealousy is, of course, Man City’s seemingly unlimited spending power which dwarves that of just about — if not — every other club in the PL. There’s a growing sense around the league — and around the world — that clubs like City, just to name one, are doing the game a disservice by distorting the transfer market and building an infallible super-team with the aid of unprecedented financial resources.

Mubarak believes that these feelings also stem from other clubs’ failed dealings in the transfer market: spending comparable — if not more — money on players who don’t justify that price tag the same way some of City’s big-money buys have done — quotes from the BBC:

“With success, there is a certain level of jealousy, envy, whatever you call it. That’s part of the game.

“It’s not easy for our competition, we know that. But the reality is, we didn’t buy the most expensive player in the Premier League [Paul Pogba], we didn’t buy the most expensive goalkeeper [Kepa Arrizabalaga], we didn’t buy the most expensive midfielder, we didn’t buy the most expensive striker [Romelu Lukaku].

“People make decisions, they’ve got to live by them. This is a well-run club.”

City’s financial dealings have regularly been in the headlines of late, as they are believed to have circumvented FFP rules by lying about sponsorship deals so as to balance a larger expenditure on transfer fees and player wages with revenue generated by the club.

Valverde under pressure after dismal end to Barcelona’s season

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MADRID (AP) A couple of weeks ago, few questioned Ernesto Valverde as Barcelona coach.

The team had just won a second straight Spanish league title under his command and was close to making it to the Champions League final after beating Liverpool 3-0 in the first leg of the semifinals.

The team was also through to the Copa del Rey final, where it would try to win an unprecedented fifth straight title in the competition.

Valverde seemed to be comfortably in control as the club moved closer to winning the treble.

Things quickly took a turn for the worse, though, and Valverde woke up on Sunday under added pressure and facing increased criticism.

Barcelona lost 2-1 to Valencia in the Copa del Rey final on Saturday, a result that followed the disastrous elimination against Liverpool in the Champions League and added to the team’s woeful end to what had been a great season.

“A month ago we were celebrating the league title. Fifteen days ago we were thinking we had a chance at a treble,” Valverde said. “And we came up short in the decisive moments in both the Champions League and the Copa del Rey.”

The disappointing ending brought out a wave of criticism of Valverde, who last year also finished the season under a cloud after another humiliating Champions League elimination – that time it squandered a big first-leg lead against Roma in the tournament’s quarterfinals.

The criticism seems more pronounced this time, with some fans and local media calling for a change at the helm.

It didn’t take long after Barcelona’s loss to Valencia in Seville for club President Josep Bartomeu to come out and defend the coach.

“Ernesto has a contract and he remains the team’s coach,” Bartomeu said. “This loss was not the coach’s fault. The team created a lot of scoring chances but the ball didn’t go in, and what counts is how many times you score.”

Bartomeu had already defended Valverde after the demoralizing 4-0 loss to Liverpool in the Champions League, saying the club was not considering a change in command for next season.

Valverde said he was not worried and felt supported by the club despite the disappointing ending.

“It’s a bad feeling, we won’t deny it, but we have to stay strong,” he said. “What we want as coaches is to have a chance to come back. It’s tough to lose, it means something went wrong. We have to take the responsibility for it.”

Even if Valverde stays as expected, it doesn’t mean there won’t be changes for Barcelona.

Several players played below expectations this season, especially former Liverpool star Philippe Coutinho, who was regularly jeered by fans and whose place with the club remains uncertain.

Bartomeu will likely have to go shopping in the offseason to try to improve the supporting cast for Lionel Messi, who had a fantastic year but wasn’t able to save the season by himself. When Messi looked ordinary, no one was able to take over his role as protagonist, and it proved costly in the decisive moments.

Young midfielder Frenkie de Jong is joining from Ajax and he should significantly boost the midfield, but Barcelona will definitely need to add to its attack, as Luis Suarez was the only true striker who performed consistently well. He couldn’t play in the Copa final after undergoing knee surgery and his absence was felt as the team struggled to capitalize on its scoring chances.

Veteran Gerard Pique is set to return for another season in defense, but there are still doubts about the fitness of Samuel Umtiti, who missed several matches this season because of injuries.

“We’ve been thinking about next season for a while, but it’s not the time to discuss the future,” Bartomeu said. “We ended with the Spanish league title, it was important. We couldn’t win the Copa, but we’ll just move on.”

Suarez defends surgery decision after Barca lose Copa del Rey final

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Luis Suarez has defended himself from criticism for undergoing knee surgery that prevented him from playing for Barcelona in the Copa del Rey final.

The Uruguayan released a statement Sunday saying he had no option despite the timing of the final, which Barcelona lost 2-1 to Valencia on Saturday.

Suarez said he had to undergo surgery “against my will” after rupturing his meniscus against Liverpool in the Champions League semifinals.

He said the surgery earlier this month had nothing to do with a cartilage issue that he had been nursing since the beginning of the season.

Barcelona won the Spanish league but finished the season on a low after being eliminated by Liverpool in the Champions League and losing the Copa final to Valencia.

Suarez scored 25 goals in 49 matches this season, second only to Lionel Messi on the scoring charts for Barcelona.

U-20 WC roundup: Mexico hammered by Japan; Italy top Ecuador

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A roundup of all of Sunday’s action at the U-20 World Cup in Poland…

[ MORE: USWNT wins final match before World Cup (video) ]

Mexico 0-3 Japan

Mexico’s heavy defeat at the hands of Japan means El Tri‘s stars of tomorrow, who have zero points from their first two games, cannot finish top-two in Group B and can only advance to the knockout rounds as one of four third-place teams.

Taisei Miyashiro (21st and 77th minutes) and Kyosuke Tagawa (52nd) bagged the goals on Sunday, as Japan picked up its first victory and set up an all-important finale with Italy to decide who finishes top of the group on Wednesday.

Ecuador 0-1 Italy

Andrea Pinamonti scored the only goal in Italy’s 1-0 victory over 10-man Ecuador to reach the six-point mark and guarantee themselves a top-two finish and a place in the round of 16.

Elsewhere in the U-20 World Cup

Senegal 2-0 Colombia [ HIGHLIGHTS ]
Poland 5-0 Tahiti [ HIGHLIGHTS ]

Monday’s U-20 World Cup schedule

Honduras v. Uruguay — 12 p.m. ET
Qatar v. Ukraine — 12 p.m. ET
USA v. Nigeria — 2:30 p.m. ET
Norway v. New Zealand — 2:30 p.m. ET