Manchester City’s quest to win four trophies in the same season gathered pace on Sunday when they lifted the Carabao Cup for a fourth time in six years. Their shoot-out success over Chelsea was well-deserved, even if the match remained goalless for 120 minutes and will be remembered more for the behaviour of Blues’ keeper Kepa Arrizabalaga rather than City’s triumph.
The 24-year-old Spaniard refused to be substituted ahead of the penalty shoot-out, much to the annoyance of his manager Maurizio Sarri. And when City held their nerve to clinch the shoot-out 4-3, the Sky Blues had moved one small step closer to completing the quadruple.
With the League Cup in the bag, all that remains is the Premier League, FA Cup and the small matter of the Champions League. Despite all the talk in the press, you get the feeling that even Manchester City’s own manager, Pep Guardiola, does not really believe in all the hype and is simply playing along with the newshounds.
The truth is, this sort of paper talk happens every few years but, as yet, no club as ever got to within a game or two of completing the seemingly impossible quadruple – and Guardiola knows that.
This is not the first time City have been talked up in terms of winning all four.
At the start of 2018, it was a similar story with City running away with the Premier League title, were already in the semi-final of the League Cup and looking ahead to a last 16 tie in the Champions League where they would face Swiss side Basel who were beaten 4-0 at home in the first leg.
On this occasion the dream came crashing down on Monday, February 19th, when City were beaten 1-0 by League One outfit Wigan in the FA Cup – five years after Dave Whelan’s club had beaten the Manchester giants in the final at Wembley.
Although City went on to lift the League Cup with a comfortable 3-0 victory over Arsenal in the final, and amassed 100 points in the Premier League (with a winning margin of 19), they were humbled by Liverpool in Europe and ended the season with ‘just’ two trophies.
A similar thing happened in 2014, with successes in both Premier League and League Cup – which back then was sponsored by Capital One. On that occasion, their quadruple hopes were finally dashed on March 9th in the quarter-finals of the FA Cup. And, yes, you’ve guessed it. It was Wigan – then a Championship club – who beat them 2-1 and this time at their own Etihad Stadium.
But even if they had beaten The Latics that Sunday afternoon, City were already two goals down from the first leg of their Last 16 tie in Europe.
Barcelona, who had won comfortably in Manchester, would eventually clinch the tie 4-1 on aggregate, with City exiting two competitions in the space of three days. Somehow, Steven Gerrard and Liverpool conspired to hand City the title a few weeks later as Manuel Pellegrini’s side edged the Premier League title by two points – but that’s another story.
As for other English clubs to have been talked about as potential winners of four trophies in one campaign, Chelsea have experienced this feeling as well. In 2015, they too won both Premier League and League Cup titles, clinching the former by a comfortable nine points.
But before Paris St Germain had ended their European ambitions, the Blues had sensationally lost 4-2 at home to League One Bradford who came from two-nil down to sensationally register one of the biggest shocks in FA Cup history. The Chelsea manager at the time was Jose Mourinho who, during his first season at Stamford Bridge in 2004/05, also won Premier League and League Cup trophies. In early May, it was a bizarre Luis Garcia goal at Anfield – did it cross the line or not! – which knocked them out in the semi-finals of the Champions League.
However, their FA Cup hopes had already been brought to an early close by Dutchman Patrick Kluivert in a round five clash at St James Park, Newcastle, on February 20th.
As for City’s local rivals United, they were talked about as potential quadruple winners in 2009. Ten years ago they enjoyed Premier League and League Cup glory – the latter clinched via a penalty shoot-out at Wembley against Tottenham. They reached, and lost, the Champions League final against Barcelona but kept the dream alive until Sunday, April 19th when a penalty shootout led to their downfall against Everton in the semi-finals at the national stadium.
So all that remains is to wait and see if City can become the first English club to win all three domestic trophies – along with the Champions League. If they can survive beyond mid-April that, in itself, would be an achievement of sorts.
They have already beaten German club Schalke in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie, as they had been tipped to do so by Oddschecker, so should reach the quarter-finals once again, at the very least. Liverpool, because they have already been knocked out of the FA Cup, hold a narrow advantage in the race to win the Premier League crown, while City face a quarter-final tie at Swansea.
The quadruple will probably evade City again this year but the good news is that Wigan have already been knocked out of England’s famous old competition, so at least that fate will not befall the Sky Blues on this occasion!