Manchester City officially handed over the Premier League title to Liverpool by losing 2-1 to Chelsea last week.
In truth, the team did that even before the end of last year. Man City simply failed to turn up in the Premier League this season as far as competing for the title is concerned. Of course, aside from Jurgen Klopp’s side, the Blues are still better than the rest in the division. By their performances this term, the other top teams deserve to be right where they are on the table.
Arsenal have been poor all season. Manchester United are rebuilding. Same applies to Chelsea as both sides have new managers who are still unproven at the top level. It has been more or less an experimental campaign for these sides.
That really explains why Leicester City occupy third place on the league table. Brendan Rodgers’ men have not been special in any way. The team has won just 16 league games out of 31 played in the season. Yet that’s three more than Manchester United, and four and six more than Tottenham and Arsenal respectively. So compared to Liverpool’s 28 games won out of 31, the competition has simply been non-existent.
So Jurgen Klopp’s men find themselves far ahead of the chasing pack. The team has won the league with absolutely no pressure. Sitting 23 points above City on the league table it’s difficult to argue that this is not the best team in the land.
But you only need to watch Manchester City play before you have a change of mind. Yet, it is what it is. The Cityzens have failed to maintain the consistency required to challenge for the title.
As tradition demands City will have to mount a guard of honour for Liverpool when the Reds visit the Etihad Stadium on Thursday. That much has been confirmed by manager Pep Guardiola.
“Of course we are going to do it,” the City gaffer said when asked if City will give the Merseysiders a guard of honour.
“We are going to do the guard of honour of course.
“We have always received Liverpool when they came to our house in an incredible way.
“They cannot complain and of course we are going to do it because they deserve it.”
And that is what begs the question, do they really deserve it? Yes, do they deserve a guard of honour from Manchester City?
To start with, this is a club that has consistently been hostile to Manchester City. Every time the Blues visit Anfield, they are given a rough treatment both by the players on the pitch and by the fans. Even the management plays dirty. Last year, the club reportedly paid City £1 million as compensation for spying on our scouting system.
How can we forget the vandalism inflicted on Manchester City's team bus by Liverpool fans prior to the Champions League quarter-final match two seasons ago? It unsettled City players leading to a scandalous 3-0 first leg loss that the team could not recover from. Yet, there were no repercussions whatsoever for their actions.
Speaking strictly in terms of performance on the pitch, it is clear City is the better team of the two. In fact, this is the best team in England by far. And it has been the case for the past couple of years. Yet, the Blues will be required to pay homage to their visitors.
It’s understandable then that even a former Liverpool player Danny Murphy is not thrilled with the idea of a guard of honour for the Reds.
“It’s a perception of respect, ‘the right thing to do’, the message you’re trying to send to the football world that when somebody wins, that you show respect and grace,” the ex-Liverpool forward stated while speaking on the topic with talkSPORT.
“The fact City will be doing it on Thursday will show humility, saying ‘well done’ to Liverpool and appreciation for their quality.
“I think it’s a load of nonsense! I don’t know where it started and why it started, I would feel uncomfortable doing it.
“I’d do it because you have to do it, but I wouldn’t want to do it, because it’s not done with sincerity.
“If I was a Liverpool player and United won the league, you know they’re better than you, you respect that and you’re trying your best to be like them, so they know you respect them.
“The fans don’t want you to do it, the players don’t really want to do it, it’s all for effect and it doesn’t mean anything.
“Kevin De Bruyne is the best midfielder, probably, in the world, and he’s clapping his hands and giving a guard of honour to players who can’t even lace his boots!
“And if I’d won it, by the way, if I was walking through, I’d feel awkward. I’d feel uncomfortable.
“I understand why the powers that be created it, because it does give off the right message to those watching.
“But I don’t see the point.”
In the end, City will have to do it in line with tradition.
But again should Manchester City be clapping for Liverpool as the best team in the land?