The student news site of Adrian Wilcox High School in Santa Clara, California

The Scribe

The student news site of Adrian Wilcox High School in Santa Clara, California

The Scribe

The student news site of Adrian Wilcox High School in Santa Clara, California

The Scribe

Five Star Season for Treble Winning Champions Manchester City

Ian Jackson
Mr. Jackson sits in City Manager Pep Guardiola’s chair at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester.

To say that Manchester City had a good 2023 would be an understatement. The club, voted by the Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) as the “Club of the Year” at the 2023 Ballon d’Or ceremony, had a historic and record-breaking year in which they won a remarkable five trophies and didn’t lose a single game at their home stadium. 

This phenomenal trophy haul included winning the storied “Treble” of the English FA Cup, English Premier League, and UEFA Champions League, as well as the UEFA Super Cup and the FIFA Club World Cup for the first time in their history.

This remarkable 22/23 season started off in slightly auspicious fashion with a 3-1 loss to rivals Liverpool in the Premier League curtain raiser, the Community Shield. However, City took this loss on the chin and hit the ground running in both the Premier League and the UEFA Champions League by going on a 13 game unbeaten run. This excellent form spanned two months, from August 7th to October 16th, including 10 wins and three draws and was only ended by a narrow 1-0 defeat to Liverpool (again) away at Anfield.

Five wins and a tie across three competitions, including the English Football League (EFL) Cup, then led to City’s first, and final, home defeat of the season. A shock 2-1 Premier League loss to Brentford on the 12th of November. The 2022 calendar year was rounded out with a significant Premier League win against Chelsea and a disappointing draw with Everton. This result left City struggling in second place in the table, seven points behind high flying league leaders Arsenal, who had only lost one game and tied one.

When asked about his optimism about Arsenal winning the Premier League with his team as runaway leaders at the midway point, Arsenal fan and Wilcox English Teacher Mr. Burkhead stated, “Honestly, not very [optimistic]. When you have a powerhouse like Man City on your heels, it’s not a question of if but when do you fall.”

Unfortunately for Mr. Burkhead and for Arsenal he was right, as it was the second half of the Premier League season when the Manchester City juggernaut really got going and league leaders Arsenal started to flag. From January 22nd through the end of the PL season on May 28th, City went on a monster run in the league where they won 15 games, lost two (one of which was the final game of the season with the title already secured), and tied two, while also making it to both the FA Cup final and the Champion’s League Final. 

Built upon an innovative defensive strategy which saw Manager Pep Guardiola convert central defender John Stones into a hybrid midfielder and with stellar performances by defensive midfielder Rodri, the creative passing of the mercurial Kevin DeBruyne, and a record goal-scoring season by Norwegian viking striker Erling Haaland, City ended up as Premier League Champions for the third time in three seasons. 

Winning the Premier League was just the first of three hurdles in this history-making season. Six days after the end of the Premier League, City played arch-rivals Manchester United at the hallowed National Stadium of England, Wembley Stadium, in the 142nd rendition of the FA Cup Final. 

This being the first ever “Manchester Derby” FA Cup Final the atmosphere was electric and the expectations on both teams were high. United fans, whose team had historically had the upper hand over their “noisy neighbors” up until the last decade, were apparently bolstered by the “one off” nature of the game. City had other ideas. It took Manchester City less than 13 seconds to score the fastest goal in FA Cup Final history as Midfielder Ilkay Gundongen fired past the hapless David de Gea in goal for United and City truly stamped their authority on the match. 

A spurious penalty was awarded to United when City’s Jack Grealish was adjudged to have handled in the box and United captain Bruno Fernandes dispatched it with aplomb. This was only a minor blip as Gundongen struck again in the second half with a somewhat shinned volley from a Kevin DeBruyne free kick to the edge of the penalty area. City weathered some minor late pressure from their cross-town rivals and City captain Gundongen lifted the trophy to secure the second jewel in the Treble crown.

The final trophy of the historical Treble, and arguably the most difficult to attain, is the UEFA Champions League. This cup competition is played by all the top teams from across Europe and contains the champions and top table finishers from each country’s domestic league. Real Madrid and Barcelona from Spain, Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund from Germany, Paris Saint Germain and Marseille from France, and Juventus, AC, and Inter Milan from Italy to name just a few. These teams are the “creme de la creme” of European and World football.

City smashed them all. Over 13 total matches, six games in the group, three two legged knockout games in the round of 16, quarter-final, and semi-final, and one game in the final, Manchester City did not lose a single game. Eight wins and five ties, 32 goals scored, and only five goals conceded, the statistics speak for themselves. This was a dominant City team that swept aside former Champions Real Madrid, the team that incidentally knocked City out of the competition the previous year, in the semi-final by an aggregate score of five goals to one. 

The 22/23 Champions League Final in Istanbul Turkey was a tense affair. Not only because of the defensive quality of Manchester City’s opposition, three-time UCL Champions Inter Milan of Italy, but because City had not only never won a Champions League title but this was also the final game to win the legendary Treble.

Inter Milan played the role of disruptors perfectly. Looking to jam up the midfield and prevent City’s creative midfielders, Kevin DeBruyne, Phil Foden, and Bernardo Silva, from getting time on the ball and feeding Haaland. It was a tight game where City dominated possession with John Stones and Rodri conducting the midfield but Inter had more shots with more on target than City, although City probably had the more clear-cut chances.

68 minutes in, a mazy cross-field run by Phil Foden saw him lay the ball off to Manuel Akanji who then slid the ball into the penalty area to the right of the goal, between two defenders, and onto the run of Bernardo Silva. Silva then played a slightly deflected cut back into a space about 16 yards from goal. Time stood still. Suddenly, like a steam train emerging from a dark tunnel at full pelt, Rodri advanced upon the ball and skillfully curled the ball with the inside of his foot, around the outside of two Inter Milan defenders, and past the helpless Andre Onana in goal. The net bulged, the City fans erupted, Rodri slid to his knees beside the left-hand corner flag and the rest is history. City held on despite a nervous finish and lifted the UEFA Champions League trophy for the first time in their history while securing only the second-ever Treble in English football.

Although this remarkable victory and remarkable Treble achievement marked the end of the 22/23 season the story did not end there. City followed up at the start of the 23/24 season with a 5-4 European Super Cup penalty shoot-out win against Sevilla and a 4-0 victory against Fluminense of Brazil to hoist the Club World Cup. 

Winning both of these trophies for the first time in club history after having won a storied Treble, including the Champions League for the first time, really capped a remarkable season for Manchester City. This historical achievement, likely not to be repeated for a very long time, if ever in this manner, will live long in the memory of City fans and football fans alike and cements this Manchester City team as one of the greatest teams in the history of the sport.

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