Manchester City have been crowned 2020-21 Premier League champions after Manchester United’s defeat to Leicester.
Pep Guardiola’s side have had to wait to rubberstamp their latest triumph, following changes to the fixture schedule and their own slip-up.
A late defeat to Chelsea last weekend as closest rivals United won at Aston Villa kept City’s champagne on ice but they finally reclaimed the Premier League title from Liverpool before kicking a ball again as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side were beaten 2-1 on Tuesday after making 10 changes to their starting line-up.
City have now won three Premier League titles and eight major trophies under Guardiola, who last year signed a new two-year contract to remain at the club until 2023.
Pep: The hardest one, this is for our fans and Colin Bell
City boss Guardiola described this season’s title win as the “hardest one” and dedicated the triumph to the fans who have had to stay away from the matches and the late, great club icon Colin Bell, who passed away earlier this year.
“This has been a season and a Premier League title like no other. This was the hardest one. We will always remember this season for the way that we won. I am so proud to be the manager here and of this group of players,” Guardiola said in a statement.
“They are so special. To come through this season – with all the restrictions and difficulties we’ve faced – and show the consistency we have is remarkable. It is relentless. Every single day, they are there, fighting for success, trying always to be better. They have been so, so resilient.
“That is equally true of each and every member of our backroom staff, who have worked tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure that our players are fully equipped to take on the unexpected challenges and new routines throughout such a turbulent year.
“Not forgetting, of course, all of the staff across our organisation who work to make this club the success it is. Whether that’s been from the offices at the City Football Academy or working from home, the efforts of every employee in such trying circumstances have contributed to this achievement.
“At the start of every season, the Premier League is the most important title for us. This is the one where you have to be there every three days, playing all your rivals home and away. Only by being the very best, week in week out, can you win this competition. It is a huge success.
“It is so important to say a huge thank you to all our fans. In our toughest moments, we couldn’t hear the crowd get behind us as usual, but we know they are with us everywhere we go and that has lifted us. I promise them we sense their love, we appreciate it and we could not have done what we have done without it.
“I hope we can all celebrate together one day not too far away. It has been such a hard year for so many people. This one is really for our fans and for Colin Bell and all his family.”
How City triumphed after slow start
City are the kings of England again but it was far from plain sailing during the first half of the campaign.
They won only five of their first 13 league games and were almost exclusively positioned in the bottom half of the table until December.
But that poor form ended abruptly after a 1-1 draw with West Brom at the Etihad.
A staggering 21-game win streak in all competitions ensued, including 15 successive victories in the Premier League, to build a 12-point lead atop the table – before the run ended in the 2-0 defeat to Manchester United in March