A 1-0 win over Inter in Istanbul in June ensured victory at the seventh attempt for Pep Guardiola as the club tasted triumph in its 12th year in the competition. After years of being unable to marry their domestic dominance – five Premier League titles in the last six years – with European success, the Blues finally won the last trophy that their owners have been desperate to win, with owner Sheikh Mansour attending just the second match of his 15-year ownership to see them complete the Treble.
That could have been seen as the completion of a circle, and some wondered if there would be the same appetite to invest in the team given all major honours had now been won. However, chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak was already thinking about the next Champions League final as he celebrated in Turkey and further talks in Abu Dhabi at the end of the season cemented the next ambition for City to now replicate their Premier League success in Europe.
Txiki Begristain was not given a blank cheque book this summer to back that up, with the club showing in their negotiations for Declan Rice, Lucas Paqueta and others that they would not bend from their strict principles in the transfer market of sticking to their assessments of player valuations. However, the sales of Riyad Mahrez and Aymeric Laporte, topped up with nearly 100m from selling academy graduates, has allowed the Blues to invest more than 200m into the squad while maintaining a healthy net spend of under 50m – placing them 13th in England for net spend and 18th in Europe.
Club bosses believe that should be enough to keep them competitive for major trophies and attempt to build on their maiden Champions League trophy and run of two finals in three years. Even if there is no set target of trophies, there is an acceptance that, just as one European trophy have already elevated the profile and legacy of this City team, multiple Champions League wins can stand them out further in the pantheon of the best ever sides.
Having finally won the competition, City feel that a significant weight of pressure has now been removed and that they have the foundations to enjoy a golden period in the Champions League in a similar way to giants such as Real Madrid and Bayern Munich previously have. Guardiola reiterated in the press conference before the game that there is no sense of their jobs being over.
“People say we won it and its done. Its not done,” he said. They&aposre happy, were happy.
“Every time we come here, yesterday we took a picture of the team with the four trophies. It makes us so happy, you cannot deny but it&aposs done. If I wanted to live for the memories I wouldnt be here. I&aposd be at home or on a beach.
“We are here, play against West Ham, have to do it. We played the Super Cup against Sevilla, three days later against Newcastle. Not an ideal situation. They had a long week. This is a challenge, it is what it is. Go for it. Were going to play this competition thinking how nice it was to win it then the competition gives us a new challenge so at least try.
“I don&apost have any doubt we will try. Just [Real] Madrid or the [Arrigo] Sacchi period with Milan when they did it again in a row. I was incredibly proud at Barcelona to win two in four years but we didnt win it in a row. Lets try by being ourselves. If we arent able to win it like the previous six seasons then qualify for next year and try again.”
Having claimed their first Champions League crown last season, Manchester City are on a new mission – to clinch back-to-back European titles!
Blues fans wont forget that magical night in Istanbul, but the slate is wiped clean now as Pep Guardiola and his men look to build a dynasty in the competition.
Our special preview of Citys 2023/24 Champions League campaign provides the ultimate guide to the tournament.