Man City have become the fifth club in the English soccer league to win three championships in a row
Manchester City have made history by becoming the fifth club in 135 years of English football to win three consecutive championships.
For Pep Guardiola it means joining a very exclusive list of coaches to have built triple title teams; Herbert Chapman, Bob Paisley and Sir Alex Ferguson.
While there has always been excitement surrounding City in the Champions League, the league is still seen as the ultimate challenge within the game.
Being the best in 38 or 42 games is special and repeating that record in 114 or 126 games is truly remarkable. Hence its rarity value.
Mail Sport takes a look at the other notable teams that defined their era by winning the league championship time and time again.
Pep Guardiola has joined an exclusive club of coaches who have competed the feat before
Next, the Catalan coach will set his sights on Sir Alex Ferguson’s record treble
And next season, Guardiola and City could be on their own. In the most competitive division in the world, no one has won four in a row.
THE THREE CHAMPIONS
Managers: Herbert Chapman Cecil Potter
Key players. Main players: George ‘Bomber’ Brown, Billy Smith, Clem Stephenson
Huddersfield was considered a rugby league town until Herbert Chapman walked through the door in 1921.
‘The father of management’, is how his biographer Patrick Barclay describes the son of the Kiveton Park miner who changed English football.
Chapman was an innovator, on and off the court. He was the first to recognize that stopping goals was just as important as scoring and he adapted the traditional 2-3-5 to add a third centre-half.
He brought a new professionalism, many decades later, George Graham studied his methods and detected and invested in talent. There was disbelief when he spent £4,000 on just one player, Clem Stephenson, but the inside forward became his influential captain.
I don’t want you to run away. I want you to distribute the ball’, were the coach’s instructions to his field general.
In 1923-24 Huddersfield became champions for the first time, surpassing Cardiff City on goal average.
They beat Nottingham Forest 3-0 in their last game, but the crowd didn’t leave until they heard the news of Cardiff’s game in Birmingham. Chapman had a phone attached to his ear in the office. When the game ended 0-0, he stormed through the gates and yelled: ‘We’ve won.’
1924/25 saw Huddersfield finish two points clear of West Brom, but Chapman later resigned to join Arsenal, seeing the potential of having a successful club in London.
Terrier fans should have worried. Number 2 Cecil Potter took over and the transition was smooth with George ‘Bomber’ Brown scoring 35 goals.
“Herbert had built the foundation so well that the club didn’t collapse after he left,” says Barclay. Exactly the same would happen at Arsenal in the following decade.
Managers: Herbert Chapman Joe Shaw George Allison
Key players. Main players: Cliff Bastin, Ted Drake, David Jack, Alex James
“He saw the tube station bringing hordes of fans to the stadium and had a vision to create the first super club,” says author Patrick Barclay of Chapman’s decision to join Arsenal. And that was precisely how it happened.
No team south of Birmingham had been champions until Chapman led Arsenal to the award in 1931. Two years later, they won it again to ignite their three games in a row.
It had more celebrated players than at Huddersfield – internationals Cliff Bastin, Alex James, Eddie Hapgood, Joe Hulme and David Jack among them – but what made Arsenal stand out was their manager’s ability to think outside the box.
He introduced white sleeves to Arsenal’s red kit so that players could be identified more quickly when passing the ball. He instigated the Gillespie Road tube station to change its name to Arsenal.
He championed jersey numbers, international club games, and spotlights. “Way ahead of his time,” adds Barclay.
Tragically, Chapman’s dedication led to his death in January 1934, aged 55, when he contracted pneumonia watching the youth team rest.
A shaken Arsenal played later that day, a 1-1 draw with Sheffield Wednesday. Hulme only discovered the news on a billboard outside Highbury.
Once again, Chapman’s organizational skills served his club well after his departure. Joe Shaw took over for the second half of the season to secure a second title and then George Allison completed the hat-trick with Ted Drake scoring 42.
A bust of Chapman stood in the marble halls of Highbury, a sign of gratitude and respect.
Managers: Bob Paisley Joe Fagan
Key men: Kenny Dalglish, Alan Hansen, Ian Rush, Graeme Souness
Despite Liverpool’s famous European exploits, the message before the start of each season was clear. “Winning the championship in 42 games was always considered the pinnacle,” reveals local midfielder Sammy Lee.
Liverpool’s Scottish contingent of Dalglish, Hansen and Souness was at its peak. Mark Lawrenson to form a great defensive pairing with Hansen while Ian Rush teamed up with Dalglish in attack.
Paisley was reticent compared to his predecessor Bill Shankly, but chose the outgoing Souness to captain and deliver messages on the field. “He was the right age and prepared to give an opinion,” said the Tiger midfielder.
Liverpool were tenth in November 1981, but the introduction of three points for a win that season allowed them to gain ground on their rivals and finish four clear of Bobby Robson’s Ipswich.
Graeme Souness (left) won his second Champions League title with Bob Paisley in 1981
Rush’s 24 goals saw Liverpool win the 1982/83 title by 11 points, but there were doubts when Paisley resigned that summer and assistant Joe Fagan took his place.
“Liverpool had a great force in the Boot Room (their famous coaching room),” Lee explained. “We went from Bill Shankly to Bob to Joe without as much turbulence as you’d expect.”
The club won three trophies in ’83/84 and became the first to achieve a Championships hat-trick in almost 50 years. He, too, represented the end of an era with Souness’s departure at the end of the season to Sampdoria.
MANCHESTER UNITED (1999-2001)
Manager: Mr Alex Ferguson
Key players. Main players: David Beckham, Ryan Giggs, Roy Keane, Paul Scholes
The irony is that after United’s historic Treble in 1999, they got even better despite losing their great goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel.
After beating Arsenal by a single point on the last day of the 1998/99 season. they won the league the following season by 18 points, and then 10 to complete the hat-trick.
The ’92 class Gary and Phil Neville, David Beckham, Nicky Butt and Paul Scholes were still relatively inexperienced when United enjoyed their blowout victory in ’99; by the time of the new millennium, they were unstoppable.
Sir Alex Ferguson also managed to produce the perfect midfield mix of Beckham, Keane, Scholes and Giggs; the center, the tackler, the passer and the dribbler.
“The best foursome of midfielders I’ve ever seen play football,” according to Gary Neville. “They were out of this world as a unit because of their quality on the ball, and their work rate.”
One wonders how many points United would have collected in 1999/2000 if they had replaced Schmeichel correctly.
That season, Mark Bosnich and Raimon van de Gouw shared the number 1 shirt with a disastrous cameo by Massimo Taibi, and United still racked up 91 points. World Cup winner Fabien Barthez enlisted for the following campaign.
Some of United’s football was impressive during this period with Fergie’s 4-4-2 made more flexible as Teddy Sheringham and Dwight Yorke were able to drop down, Giggs and Beckham worked inside and full-backs Gary Neville and Denis Irwin moved up.
In February 2001, United defeated their nearest rival Arsenal 6-1 at Old Trafford, Yorke scoring a hat-trick. That’s how superior they were.
MANCHESTER UNITED (2007-09)
Manager: Mr Alex Ferguson
Key players. Main players: Rio Ferdinand, Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney, Edwin van der Sar
While Fergie’s first triple team was built around a formidable midfield, his second was loaded with attacking stardust.
For a time, the three forwards of Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney and Carlos Tevez were the best in the world, and in the summer of 2008 they were joined by Dimitar Berbatov from Tottenham.
It hadn’t been an easy transition to break up the Treble team. Roy Keane was forced to leave in dramatic circumstances and star striker Ruud van Nistelrooy was in and out as Ferguson opted to build a new team around the Ferdinand-Vidic axis at the back, and the style of Ronaldo and Rooney.
United’s 2006/07 title followed two years of dominance by José Mourinho’s Chelsea and the following season Fergie’s new team won the Premier League and Champions League.
Ronaldo scored 42 goals to win the Ballon d’Or. “I had four world-class players in my time at United: Cantona, Giggs, Ronaldo and Scholes,” Ferguson said. “And of them, Cristiano was the ornament on the top of a Christmas tree.”
Ronaldo wanted to leave United for Real Madrid in the summer of 2008. Ferguson blocked him, claiming he would not “sell them a virus”, but they privately agreed to let him leave another 12 months from now.
Thus, in 2008/09 United brought arguably the most brilliant attacking quartet in their history, albeit it was a much younger and little-known striker who ultimately turned out to be the key to a third successive title.
Federico Macheda, 17, scored back-to-back winners against Aston Villa and Sunderland to ensure United finished the season four points clear of Liverpool.