Why Man City's latest Premier League title win was downright boring

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The champions won the top flight for the fourth season running on Sunday

Seventy-nine seconds of jeopardy and then the familiar creeping numbness, like lidocaine spreading through a gum. For all of the inorganic peril and the orchestrally-scored video montages, Manchester City were always going to win the Premier League on Sunday afternoon; partly because that’s just what they do, and partly because the prospect of Arsenal enacting a trophy lift on TNT Sports would have bordered on the sacrilegious.

Standing in their way, like a cardboard cutout of Hasbulla before a speeding bullet train, were West Ham. To suggest that the Hammers, guaranteed ninth before a ball was even kicked at the Etihad, were already on the beach would be unfair. It would instead be more accurate to suggest that they were themselves the beach, and one engulfed by a sky blue tsunami within moments of the first whistle.

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There David Moyes’ side hung, like a shipment of claret carcasses in a meat locker, already slain and then subjected to the further insult of a Balboa-esque pummelling from a team with Manchester’s best Ivan Drago impersonator up front. Soon after the opener, Phil Foden would his score second to double City’s advantage and spark the first Poznan of the day. More would follow.

Indeed, the only time that Pep Guardiola seemed as if he might get a sweat on came in the rickety minutes between Mohammed Kudus’ stunning overhead kick and the solace of half time. Then again, Pep’s perspiration could just as easily have been caused by his insistence on dressing as a Jackson C. Frank tribute act even as summer looms large. That cable knit turtleneck he is ever so fond of is a token of his superstitious tendencies, but at this stage, we have to ask what City have to be superstitious about. Hell, they don’t even need to be a little stitious.

They say that you make your own luck, and certainly City are artisanal maestros in that regard. Many argue that the 115 unresolved charges of alleged financial doping against them sully their historic run of four consecutive top flight titles, in much the same way that Lance Armstrong ‘s hankering for human growth hormones put a bit of a dampener on his seven Tour de France victories. Ultimately, that is for the courts to decide, and if City are found guilty, then may their punishment fit their wrongdoing.

But in the here and now, all we can judge them on is their sporting merit, and to that end, they are utterly, incomparably sublime. They are also dreadfully boring.

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From the performative pitch invasions to the post-match interviews that felt more like annual HR assessments, this was a paint-by-numbers coronation; expected, duplicated, and truthfully, all the worse for it.

That’s not to say that City fans, or their squad for that matter, shouldn’t be delighted with their feat. Of course they should; it would be lunacy to suggest otherwise. But there is a reason why people talk about the thrill of the chase. Once you’ve climbed the mountain, what is there left to do? Now you’re just standing on a mountain. And famously, it gets quite cold at high altitudes.

City will keep winning silverware because they don’t know any different. Despite Arsenal’s simmering pluckiness, Guardiola’s juggernaut is still the best team in the country by a considerable distance, and every tournament they enter is theirs to lose. They are playing FIFA on semi-pro difficulty in real life, and no matter who you are, the novelty of that is going to wear thin eventually.

It is not City’s fault that nobody can touch them, nor are they to be blamed for for lacking a certain unhinged enthusiasm after securing sixth title in seven years, but from a neutral perspective, their unshakeable dominance is a dreary development for the English game. It used to be the case that Premier League devotees would criticise the Bundesliga or Ligue 1 for being ‘farmer’s leagues’; now it is us, peasants at the plough, serfing and turfing out in the fields while Lord Pep counts his doubloons up in the manor house.

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On some level, you suspect Guardiola recognises this too. It says an awful lot that the City boss welled up more at the prospect of his great adversary Jurgen Klopp leaving Liverpool on Sunday than he did in response to winning yet another Premier League crown. Few have laid a glove on the Catalan since he arrived in England, but the beaming German has caused him more headaches than most; he is the Joker to Pep’s Batman, the Magneto to his Professor X, the Ian Beale to his Phil Mitchell. His absence brings with it the loss of a certain raison d'etre.

For now, however, that is by the by. City are champions, and assuming they beat Manchester United at Wembley on Saturday, they will be FA Cup holders for another year too. But sooner or later, somebody somewhere is going to have to figure out a way of breaking their stranglehold, not just for the competitive good of the English game, but perhaps for the sake of City’s enjoyment too.

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