Khaldoon Al Mubarak: Man City 'absolutely' targeting five Premier League titles in a row

Manchester City chairman was conducting his end-of-season review in Abu Dhabi last Saturday

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Khaldoon Al Mubarak said the magnitude of Manchester City's milestone achievement of winning four Premier League titles in a row is still sinking in and that the target is to extend that record again next season.

City were pushed all the way by Arsenal in pursuit of the title, confirmed as champions only on the final day following a 3-1 win over West Ham United.

It means City are the only English club to win four successive top-flight titles. It followed last season's treble success, where Pep Guardiola's side collected winner's medals in the league, FA Cup and the Champions League.

“It feels like these last two seasons are one season – almost interconnected. Finishing last summer, winning the Champions League, it happened so fast," Manchester City chairman Al Mubarak told the club's website.

"We had a very short pre-season, and then straight back at it, the Charity Shield, the [Uefa] Super Cup and then we go into the season. And to finish it off winning a fourth Premier League in a row.

"We have to sometimes pause and contextualise. Since 1926, five teams have attempted to win four times in a row. Five teams. Huddersfield, Arsenal, Liverpool in the 80s and then Manchester United, who attempted it twice. None of them succeeded.

"In over 100 years of English football, never has any team been able to achieve four championships in a row. So, once that sinks in you start really appreciating the magnitude of what was achieved. The difficulty, the challenge, the tenacity required.”

Al Mubarak said he was convinced the title was heading back to the Etihad back in October. City had just lost to their closest rivals Arsenal 1-0 away, but the chairman insisted that, despite defeat to the Gunners, he knew the reaction from the players would be telling.

"We didn’t play particularly well, we didn’t play particularly bad, I think it was an off game by our standards. But I don’t think that we deserved to lose. We lost with that deflected goal in the last minutes. I said, ‘This is why we’re going to win the league. Today, I know how this team is going to react going forward, and I know that we are going to win the league.’”

City's success is unprecedented in modern times. Since the City Football Group's takeover in 2008, the club have won eight Premier League titles, three FA Cups, six League Cups and a first European Cup.

When asked what's next for City, Al Mubarak was emphatic that everyone at the club is targeting a fifth English league title in a row next season.

"Absolutely. Without a doubt. Actually, to be clear, this is I think something that I’m most proud of in this club and in this organisation that we have. From top to bottom, I would say that if you asked this question to anyone, they would give probably the same answer," he said.

"Players, executives, physios, board. Whoever you ask, they will answer the same thing. And that five in a row happened the second that final whistle went against West Ham. I remember just going down to the pitch and just telling almost everybody that I saw, ‘Excellent. Fantastic result. We’re so proud. But now we’re going for five in a row.’”

Al Mubarak conducted his end-of-season review in Abu Dhabi last Saturday, ahead of recent reports that City are suing the Premier League over Associated Party Transaction rules.

That case is separate to the 115 charges brought against City by the league over alleged breaking of financial fair play rules, and the City chairman said it was "frustrating" that those allegations are brought up by commentators in an attempt to undermine the club's success.

"I can feel for our fanbase, and everyone associated with the club, to have these charges constantly referenced. I think we as a club have to respect that there is a process that we have to go through, and we’re going through it. It’s taking longer than what anyone hoped for, but it is what it is, and I’ve always repeated, let’s be judged by the facts, and not by claims and counterclaims.”

On the impact of financial regulations, Al Mubarak said: “I think the Premier League got to where it is today by being the most competitive league. So, I hope there is a bit more sensibility in regulating. Always a balanced approach is good from all the leagues, be it in England or the rest of Europe. I think you won’t see the same level as we’ve seen in the last years, because of the levels of regulations that have come into place over the last 12 months.”

City missed out on becoming the first English club to win back-to-back league and FA Cups after losing to crosstown rivals Manchester United in the FA Cup final on June 1. Though disappointed by the 2-1 defeat, Al Mubarak said that the setback can help drive the team forward to more success.

“One of the things you always want to avoid is complacency. You never want to be content. You want to keep that hunger ... More importantly now we come back hungrier because we want to win this again. We want to go for the treble again and we’re going to try to win every competition we compete in. I think this, for me, is that silver lining, which is, no complacency, no content, always hungry.”

In a season where City were also crowned Fifa Club World Cup winners, Al Mubarak was quick to highlight the outstanding contribution of manager Pep Guardiola, saying the Spaniard's achievements may never be surpassed.

“It’s hard to put into words what Pep has given this organisation, this club. You can look at just records, for history’s sake and there I think he’s racked up every record, almost, in the book. And these are records that I think will be very, very hard in the future to ever break," he said.

"From winning six out of the last seven Premier Leagues, to winning four in a row, to the number of wins, the records go on and on and on. I think what his impact has been on football. English football has changed with the evolution to the type of football that Pep has brought into the league."

Guardiola hinted that he is considering his future at City following another title success, but Al Mubarak said he has no doubt they will "find the right solution" with the Spaniard still having another 12 months to run on his current deal.

“We have had this conversation many times before, you know that, over the years of the contract. Pep has always been fully committed to this club, fully committed to every contract that he has signed with us.

"This decision on his future is always a decision that we will take together, and I have no doubt that we will find, as always, we have done, the right solution that works for Pep and works for us," he said.

Updated: June 06, 2024, 10:11 AM