BREAKING: 5 behind-the-scenes team talks that inspired Man City’s Premier League title win
Manchester City recovered from a Champions League defeat vs Real Madrid last season to win the Premier League on the final day vs Aston Villa.
After Manchester City inexplicably threw away their Champions League semi-final at Real Madrid, the shock could have been so big that it might have derailed their Premier League title chances.
Leading Liverpool with four games remaining, City still had the title in their hands, but had to put the Madrid disappointment behind them to finish the job and win the league. From the moment Pep Guardiola spoke to his players before the next league game against Newcastle, the Blues knew what mindset they had to adopt and they were able to clinch the title in dramatic style.
In the final episode of City’s behind-the-scenes documentary following the squad last season, the team talks that inspired three wins and a draw to win the title have been revealed, plus a farewell message from captain Fernandinho.
Days after the Madrid defeat, City were back in action vs Newcastle. Before that game at the Etihad, Guardiola had a simple message for his players – but not before Aleks Zinchenko took the team talk responsibilities before the game.
He said: “Forget what happened in the past. This is gone, over. Forget. Just look into each other, give everything and die on the pitch. Everyone knows what they have to do on the pitch, everyone knows. We fight for something massive and incredible. We need to be ready to become legends. All of you. We go there and we f—— die there. Let’s go.”
(Image: Manchester City)
At half time, with City leading 2-0, Guardiola was keen to keep the focus and restore some confidence in his players – a tactic that worked as they went on to win 5-0. He said: “You know you are playing how everyone can do their best and you have to continue to do it. It’s for the three points. Be practical. We go three above them. But the other points is we have to score goals, we have to score goals.”
Next up was a trip to Wolves, where Kevin De Bruyne would show his world-class qualities with a sensational performance that saw him score four goals in a 5-1 win. At full time, Guardiola made sure his players didn’t get complacent with two games remaining.
“Now we are going to start to listen around the world that it’s done. And it’s not done,” he said. “Clear? It’s not done. You know that? It’s not done. We have an incredibly tough game in West Ham. So recover, focus on what you have done since Madrid. You are serious, focus on what you have to do and all the f—— energy for what you have to do next Sunday in London. It’s not done. Go in the press conference and people talk, good result, one more. Or maybe we need four points.”
West Ham (away)
Guardiola was right to be worried about West Ham, as City found themselves 2-0 down at half-time. To try and inspire a comeback, he told his players: “You don’t have anything to regret yourselves. You are playing really good. You have 45 minutes left of 90. Focus on these 45 minutes guys. If we score a goal then it will be possible and a draw is a good result for us.”
And the talk did the trick, with City scoring twice and even missing a penalty to earn a valuable point – one Guardiola used to motivate his side further at full time.
He said: “What a privilege we have guys ahead of us. What a privilege we have to play in front of our people [on the last day]. They will give you all of their lives for 90 minutes, 95 minutes. And you will give them all your lives for 95 minutes. You were again outstanding guys. Enjoy your lives and come to training, the time you’re going to train, focussed, focussed every single action to go there and give your lives during 95 minutes. You will get it.
“It’s going to happen because of what we are as a team guys. Like today, like a machine without the ball and with the ball we are machines. But it doesn’t matter what happens, we go and we go and we go and we go and we go. Until 95, 96, 97 minutes. We go and we go and we go. And we will do it.”
Fernandinho’s farewell message
Between the West Ham trip and Aston Villa game, outgoing captain Fernandinho took the entire City squad and backroom staff for a meal ahead of his final game for the club.
Speaking to the players and staff, he said: “Some of you have been here since my first day. And you know my intention was to come here to win titles and to win games. I’m so glad and thankful for all of you and today is my way to say ‘thank you’ and somehow goodbye.
“I can go home now, my father is almost 70. I can go now, back home in Brazil, saying that ‘I was a winner.’ In a far away land you have to be proud of me because everything you told me to do, I did. That’s why I go back home now after nine years here in the UK, after 17 years in Europe, with my conscience clear. Completely clear. I just want to say thank you for everything. This is my final speech today. Enjoy your time and get ready for Sunday.”
Aston Villa (home)
Then came the final game, with the documentary showing the motivational shouts of players as they prepared in the dressing room. Scott Carson said: “Different class, just carry that out. Come on.” Kyle Walker shouted: “These are the games.”
Then Fernandinho gave his final team talk for City, saying: “We go out there and we go full from the first minutes, boys. We talk a lot, now it’s time to play and we use our minds to play. If we use our minds to play… Go out there and enjoy the game. It’s time to be champions guys, play as a champion. Because you are a f—— champions. Let’s go boys.”
However, City’s first half was poor, as they found themselves a goal down. Guardiola told his players how to approach the second half, urging them never to lose belief and to use the momentum of a first goal to get a second (or third) to come back into the game.
He said: “We’re going to go for it. OK, guys? It’s impossible to think about the consequences if we don’t win. It’s normal. It’s normal. But you have to be positive until the end. We need one goal. Then we will have the momentum and we will do it. The transition we did before the goal was crazy, we are closer to losing than the win. I know you feel the pressure in the danger. It’s normal.
“We would not be here if we hadn’t been the best. You would not be. I know we are going to win it, but you have to handle in here [the mind] in a positive way. The challenge is there. Put it there and go aggressive Alex. Back, quick, at the side, then go. Try to put balls there. Find the quality, guys! You have enough. OK? Allez.”