Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola admits they must win the Champions League to be considered among the greats despite clinching a fifth Premier League in six years.
City lifted the domestic title in front of their home fans after beating Chelsea 1-0 on Sunday, 24 hours after their successful defence was confirmed by Arsenal’s defeat at Nottingham Forest.
They are the first team since Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United to win three Premier Leagues in a row and can match their neighbours’ 1999 treble next month.
City will have to win a first Champions League final to do so, however, and, despite playing down its significance to his legacy last week, Guardiola conceded it was all-important.
“All Premier Leagues are special. Every time it looks more difficult, but here we are,” said the Spaniard, whose men face Inter Milan in next month’s European showdown.
“If you have to want to be considered a real team you have to win the Champions League, we have to admit it.”
Captain Ilkay Gundogan insists he is ready to lead City to two more trophies and cap one of the all time great campaigns in English football.
“Two more finals to go. We are looking forward to it. And my arms are ready to lift two more times,” said Gundogan.
“The Premier League is the best league in the world and to win it three years in a row is unbelievable.”
Striker Erling Haaland, who broke the Premier League scoring record for a single season, agreed his first year at the club could not have gone much better.
“Debut season, 36 goals so far and two more finals left… Not bad,” said Haaland. “I’m so happy. This is a memory I’ll remember for the rest of my life. We’ve been fighting so hard.”
City playmaker Kevin De Bruyne said retaining their domestic crown had been a psychological as much as physical test.
“Sometimes it’s more tough mentally than physically because you have to go again and again,” he said. “As long as you’re not satisfied you keep going. So I want to win more while I still can.
“It’s two games. Now we need to get ready for the [FA Cup] final against United and the Champions League is after that.”
Guardiola rotated his squad but City needed just 12 minutes to score the game’s only goal against Chelsea, Julian Alvarez rifling low past Kepa Arrizabalaga.
The visitors’ best moments involved former City forward Raheem Sterling, who tested stand-in stopper Stefan Ortega, but Chelsea remain 12th in the table and could finish as low as 14th.