Champions Manchester City have set their sights on rewriting the record books after clinching the Premier League title.
Pep Guardiola’s side were crowned kings of English football on Sunday as their arch rivals Manchester United slumped to a shock 1-0 defeat against struggling West Bromwich Albion.
City are 16 points clear of second placed United, who can only take a maximum of 15 points from their remaining matches.
Given the way they have demolished all challengers in the league, it was apparent months ago that it was only a matter of when rather than if City would take the title.
But sealing the silverware thanks to a slip from old enemies United and their boss Jose Mourinho — a long-time rival of Guardiola — was a sweet moment, especially after they lost to their neighbours in the Manchester derby last weekend.
Winning the title with five matches to go makes City the joint earliest champions in the Premier League era — matching the achievement of the 2000-01 Manchester United team.
That is just one of a welter of statistical feats that have led some to rank City among the Premier League’s greatest ever teams.
Whether they deserve to be mentioned in the same breath as Manchester United’s 1999 treble winners or the 2004 Arsenal ‘Invincibles’ is up for debate.
But City, who will stage a title party when they host Swansea on Sunday, have a chance to underline their credentials over their last five matches.
Fuelled by the majestic form of Kevin De Bruyne, David Silva, Sergio Aguero and Raheem Sterling, City set a new Premier League record earlier this season by winning 18 successive matches.
The Premier League’s record points tally of 95, set by Chelsea in 2004-05, is within City’s reach if they can take nine from their last fixtures.
With 28 league victories so far, City need three more wins to top Chelsea’s record of 30 Premier League wins in a season.
United hold the current record Premier League winning margin of 18 points and that could also fall to City.
City have won 14 games on the road this season and have two to go away from home — winning both of those would beat Chelsea’s record of 15.
Guardiola’s players will focus on those targets once they have recovered from a boisterous evening of celebrations in Manchester.
– Get the party started –
After starting the title party with his Mancunian wife and his United-supporting father-in-law, City captain Vincent Kompany joined team-mates to raise a glass to their success.
“It is the same feeling as the first time, you can’t describe it,” Kompany said.
“The first time you think you are going to win all of them and the first time you lose it you think you are never going to win it again.
“It shows how football is in Manchester. There have been a lot more good days for the Red side but today it is for the Blue.
“The first one was special but this one is perhaps the one I’m most proud of. It’s a privilege to be a part of this team.”
Unlike Belgian defender Kompany, Guardiola spent Sunday afternoon playing golf with his son instead of watching the United match.
In his second season in charge, Guardiola, aided by the vast financial backing of City’s Abu Dhabi-based owners, has created a sublime team that helped him become the first Spanish coach to win the English top-flight title.
It was a far cry from his trophy-less first season with City and Kompany said Guardiola’s tenacious attitude led them to the summit.
“It is one of the first things I noticed within the first month,” he said.
“There was a period of adaptation for him coming into the league and for us taking in his methods.
“He has been able to transfer to the team that hunger and desire to never be satisfied.”
Former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss Guardiola was all smiles when he was pictured arriving home after his golf outing.
City’s title is the 24th trophy of his glittering career.
Speaking after Saturday’s 3-1 win over Tottenham, the 47-year-old gave all the credit to his players.
“I am so glad to be here and be part of this club. These guys are fantastic, awesome, they are incredible,” he said.
“This club is absolutely amazing in all terms.” – Agence France-Presse