Manchester City’s Premier League Success Leaves Many Cold

The success of the club itself, though, feels somehow cold, clinical, detached. Manchester City has the air of a machine, both in the way the project has been constructed and the manner in which the team plays. It should not be a surprise, then, that it should elicit roughly the same emotional response. This is a state-backed enterprise of bottomless wealth and grandiose vision. It may not be easy to love, but it is even harder to resist.

City’s advantage is not, as is often lazily suggested, that it can spend more than anyone else, though few teams could afford the squad that Guardiola has at its disposal. Manchester United has frittered away hundreds of millions in the transfer market. Chelsea, too. Liverpool commits almost as much in salary to its squad.

The edge is in the consistency. City is rarely — if ever — forced to sell a player on anything other than its own terms. That is what separates it, as much as anything, from all of its peers. Plenty of clubs have a plan. City is the only one that has the privilege of seeing it through without the unwelcome intrusion of reality. It is a club that does not operate under the same pressures as everyone else.

That is not the same, though, as not playing by the same rules. It is a coincidence, doubtless, that the run of form that will end with Guardiola’s team claiming yet another title began after the club was charged with 115 counts of rules breaches — dating back over a decade, the whole span of its dominion — by the Premier League.

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