Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City belong in the conversation whenever the best team in Premier League history is being discussed.
The Citizens set a record by collecting 100 points en route to becoming champions last season, and they were two points shy of that number as they made it back-to-back titles on Sunday.
City fended off the threat of Liverpool masterfully. They won 14 games in a row to close the season and collected 51 points out of a possible 54 in 2019.
And, while Jurgen Klopp’s side earned a lot of plaudits, the stats show just how impressive City were.
They ranked first in wins, goals, passes, possession and shots conceded in the entire league, per Sky Sports.
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But there’s one area where they ranked last in: tackling.
City’s possessional dominance means it was always likely they would finish with a relatively low number of tackles. And the 518 that they made was the fewest in the league.
Pep proves Stan Collymore wrong
That will interest Stan Collymore, who wasn’t happy when Guardiola said his Man City players don’t practice tackling in December 2016.
“I am not a coach for the tackles so I don’t train the tackles,” Guardiola said, per Sky Sports. “What I want is to try and play good and score goals and arrive more [in the box].
“In the end we’re not going to win or lose for the tackles.”
His comments didn’t sit well with former Liverpool player Collymore, who said the City boss is “beyond deluded” if he thinks he can win the league without working on tackling.
“If he thinks he’s going to turn up and outplay everybody in the Premier League, and that teams like Watford, Leicester, Bournemouth, Southampton and Crystal Palace are going to let his Manchester City side have the ball for 90 per cent of the time and pass pretty patterns around them so they can get a result, then he is absolutely deluded,” Collymore wrote in his column for the Mirror on December 12, 2016.
“In fact, he is beyond deluded.
“And if he thinks he doesn’t need to teach tackling or one-on-one combat in training then he’ll be going back to Spain with his tail between his legs.”
Two-and-a-half years later and Guardiola has just won his second Premier League title.
Guardiola’s ‘Who is Stan Collymore?’ comment has never felt more appropriate.