January 29, 2018 / 12:18 PM / 4 months ago

Manchester City's quadruple dream starts to look possible

LONDON (Reuters) - For all Pep Guardiola’s insistence that the quadruple represents an impossible dream, Manchester City have never been better placed to win all four trophies in one season.

Soccer Football - Carabao Cup Semi Final First Leg - Manchester City vs Bristol City - Etihad Stadium, Manchester, Britain - January 9, 2018 Manchester City fans wave a flag Action Images via Reuters/Carl Recine

A further boost to their chances should be delivered this week with British media reporting that City will break their own transfer record by paying Athletic Bilbao 57 million pounds for Aymeric Laporte.

The Frenchman, who would be eligible for the Champions League, is considered one of Europe’s most promising defenders and would provide cover at left back, where City have been weakened by injury, or at the heart of the back four.

Laporte’s arrival ahead of Wednesday’s transfer deadline would be a welcome boost for Guardiola as he ponders how to martial his resources on four fronts.

That task is made much easier by City’s 12-point lead in the Premier League which they are on course to win in record time, well ahead of the Manchester United team of 2000-01 who did so with five games to spare.

City are also well placed on the other three fronts with a final berth secured against Arsenal in the League Cup, a comfortable-looking Champions League last-16 tie against Basel coming up and a place booked in the FA Cup fifth round.

The best measure of City’s progress is that two years ago they also went into February contesting on four fronts, although six points adrift in the Premier League.

WEAKENED SIDE

Determined to make up ground, and with a Champions league tie coming up, manager Manuel Pellegrini played a weakened side in the FA Cup fifth-round tie at Chelsea, which City lost 5-1.

Although Guardiola also rotated in City’s fourth-round tie at Cardiff on Sunday, starting Sergio Aguero on the bench, City’s side remained strong with man of the season Kevin De Bruyne directing operations in midfield and Raheem Sterling up front. Aguero was sent on when Leroy Sane was injured.

Predictably, Guardiola used the German winger’s likely absence over the next few weeks to deflect attention away from quadruple talk.

“I do not have enough players, I have players out injured. It is impossible,” said the Spaniard, who twice won variations of the treble with Barcelona.

Only one British team, Celtic in 1967, have won all four major trophies in one season, but others have gone close.

Liverpool bagged the League, European Cup and League Cup in 1984 while Manchester United secured an even more illustrious treble of Champions League, Premier League and FA Cup in 1999.

Eight years later Chelsea competed on all four fronts until May 1 when Liverpool knocked them out in the Champions League semi-finals. The Blues went on to win both domestic cups and finished second in the Premier League.

City look on course to better that and their former England defender Joleon Lescott is among those who think they can.

“If anyone can, they can,” he told the BBC. “If they get some luck, they could do it.”

Just don’t mention it to Guardiola.

Reporting by Neil Robinson, editing by Ed Osmond

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