Manchester City 2023/24 season review and player ratings: Foden 10, Rodri 10, Haaland 8

Pep Guardiola's team enjoyed another brilliant campaign that included a fourth straight Premier League title

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Season synopsis

Premier League final position: 1st

Champions League: Quarter-finals, knocked out by Real Madrid on penalties

FA Cup: Runners-up, lost final to Manchester United

League Cup: Third round, knocked out by Newcastle United

Winners: of the Fifa Club World Cup (beat Fluminense 4-0 in final) and the Uefa Super Cup (beat Sevilla on penalties)

Community Shield Runners-up, lost to Arsenal on penalties

After winning the Champions League in 2023, itself the final part of an incredible treble trophy winning season, it might have been easy to expect a drop off in performances by Manchester City this season. Instead, the team improved their Premier League points tally to 91 points to claim an unprecedented fourth title in a row, were unlucky to exit the quarter-finals of the Champions League on penalties to Real Madrid and reached the FA Cup final. Earlier in the season Pep Guardiola’s team claimed the Uefa Super Cup and spent a rejuvenating few days in Saudi Arabia while winning the Fifa Club World Cup.

Just as Pep Guardiola has redefined English football with his tactical innovations, fluid formations and intricate patterns of play, he has also changed the language used to define success and, indeed, the level required to win a Premier League title. All told it was another treble, albeit an unusual one, even though the Wembley defeat to Manchester United in the FA Cup final left a sense of what might have been at the end of another extraordinarily successful season. These are the days for City fans, despite that derby loss at the weekend.

Best performance of season

Tottenham 0, Manchester City 2: If City had gone on to win the cup final on Saturday, then the side’s resilient single-goal win against Chelsea in the semi-final less than 72 hours after suffering penalty shoot-out heartache in the Champions League may well have gone down as the season’s best performance for its sheer dogged determination.

The gloss has now been knocked off that match by United’s cup exploits, leaving the field open for the end-of-season epic at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, where once again City demonstrated the steel of winners. For weeks this fixture had been marked on the calendar as the place where City’s title hopes could be undone, falling as it did in the final week of a heavily congested season and taking into account the club’s miserable league record in North London’s newest stadium.

Spurs were certainly at it for much of the game, but a Kevin de Bruyne assist for an Erling Haaland tap-in put the away side ahead in the second half. Stefan Ortega made a string of saves after being forced into action following injury to Ederson, the best of which was a brilliant stop to deny Son Heung-min as he bore down on goal in the 89th minute after an uncharacteristic error by Manuel Akanji.

City went on to secure three points after a wonder pass from Phil Foden to Jeremy Doku and some smart work by the Belgian winger led to him being brought down. Haaland converted the penalty to claim a vital win for the champions in a lion-hearted team performance.

Worst performance of season

Aston Villa 1 Manchester City 0: City’s league season experienced a prolonged slump over the course of autumn, with a record of P11 W4 D4 L3 from the last day of September until the middle of December. Some of those performances had mitigating circumstances, including a run of three successive entertaining draws against Chelsea, Liverpool and Spurs, all of which could easily have been won, but the Villa game was something else entirely.

Unai Emery’s team comprehensively outplayed, overran and outgunned City. The recorded shot count finished 22-2 in Villa’s favour and, more than that, Guardiola’s side looked toothless for long stretches of the match. Villa were utterly dominant.

Thriller of season

Real Madrid 3 Manchester City 3: For a team that tribal commentators like to label as machine-like and robotic, City delivered plenty of thrills and spills, including a 4-4 draw with Chelsea, 3-3 draw with Spurs, 3-2 away victory versus Newcastle, two pulsating 1-1 draws with Liverpool and the high-stakes end of season battle at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

For sheer drama, joy, chaos and beauty, the game of the season has to be the titanic 3-3 draw in the Bernabeu against Real Madrid. City went ahead early through Bernardo Silva’s clever free-kick, trailed 2-1 before the game was 15 minutes old, got back on level terms through a Foden wonder strike with a quarter of the match remaining, went ahead through an even better finish by Josep Gvardiol with less than 20 minutes to go, before Valverde equalised again.

It was an epic contest between two teams who have met each other four times in the Champions League knockout stages in five years. Madrid have won only one of those eight games compared to City’s four victories and three draws, yet the Spanish champions have somehow progressed twice. Theirs is an intense, modern rivalry.

Player of season

Rodri. By most measures, Foden should claim this one, contributing 27 goals in all competitions, many of stunning quality, and has rightly swept the Premier League Player of the Season and FWA Footballer of the Year awards.

That, however, would be to overlook the player who makes City tick match after match. Rodri was absent for all three of City’s league defeats this season and is on an unbeaten Premier League run of 50 matches, an extraordinary record for an incredible player. Having scored the winning goal in the 2023 Champions League final and spoken about how he needed a break from City’s gruelling schedule, some might have expected his standards to regress a little this term.

Instead, like Foden, he was there right until the end of the season, scoring against West Ham to seal the title. While attacking players inevitably take most of the praise, Rodri is always at the heart of everything good from City.

Goal of season

Phil Foden v Aston Villa: This one is every bit as tough as trying to separate Rodri and Foden for player of the season. A shortlist of contenders might include Oscar Bobb’s additional time winner against Newcastle, De Bruyne’s pass-shot into the goal in the same game, his long-range diving header against Brighton and every one of City’s three goals in the Bernabeu.

Foden, who scored one of those three, has had an exceptional season and could pretty much have his own roll call of spectacular finishes as well, such has been the frequency of his high-calibre goal contributions. Picking one is next to impossible, but a current favourite is his hat-trick goal against top-four-chasing Villa. Foden got knocked down just outside the box, got up to chase down and win the ball back before firing in an unstoppable shot from the edge of the area. It was a wonder goal in a consequential season of wonderful goals. As an emblem of a determined and battling season, it is a compelling one.

Updated: May 27, 2024, 11:25 AM