Kyle Walker urges Manchester City to follow up their Treble triumph with another 100-point season as Pep Guardiola’s men look for new records to break following perfect start
- Manchester City thrashed Fulham 5-1 to make it four wins from four
- Kyle Walker ha set his team-mates the challenge of racking up a points century
- They achieved the feat in 2017-18 and City want to stroll another title race
Some people are never happy. Kyle Walker is sick of winning Premier League titles with Manchester City by chasing down rivals. Thrilling finishes? Forget that, this year he is demanding something different.
The elder statesman of the squad sat his team-mates down for a chat last month. A squad full of players who had just created history were told some home truths.
Or as close to home truths as you can get at a training ground where the Treble loot glistens at the front doors.
‘We’re always playing catch-up,’ Walker told them. ‘Why don’t we try to run away with it, like we did in 2017-18, rather than playing catch-up or waiting for people to drop points?’
It might sound a bit strange. Arsenal and Liverpool have found out about the City juggernaut in recent seasons and Pep Guardiola has now won the lot at City.
Kyle Walker (right) has challenged his Manchester City team-mates to rack up 100 points
City racked up 100 points during the 2017-18 Premier League season as they lifted the trophy
But this is an insight into a dressing room that is never quite satisfied. Another challenge: don’t give the others a sniff this time. Without those challenges, a drop-off feels inevitable.
City have started this season better than they did the one six years ago, which ended with 100 points in the most dominant campaign this country has seen.
This is their most profitable first four games since 2016. They finished third that year, so not a great deal can be read into it at the moment — and City’s fixtures have been relatively kind — but it is going better than expected given the quick summer turnaround, outgoing players and Kevin De Bruyne’s injury.
‘Can we get better? It’s hard,’ Walker said. ‘Do I think the recruitment and the players they have brought in are just as good? I very much think so. Mateo Kovacic is a born winner, Josko Gvardiol, he’s class. The sky is the limit.’
City failed to sparkle here for long periods, yet ended up with five goals and an Erling Haaland hat-trick.
Marco Silva’s Fulham game plan, even without Joao Palhinha, had been bearing fruit until VAR controversy surrounding Nathan Ake’s goal just before the break, and whether Manuel Akanji was interfering from an offside position.
Fulham thought so. And Haaland, too, who admitted he would have been furious if the decision had gone against City. Case closed: if benefiting players think it’s wrong, then it’s wrong.
Guardiola, still in Barcelona recovering from back surgery, FaceTimed the players afterwards.
Walker sees no reason why City can’t follow up their Treble triumph with a 100-point season
Erling Haaland starred for Manchester City with his first hat-trick of the season to take his tally to six already in the league
The boss will be back after the international break and City will take to the voting booths to elect a new five-man leadership team.
Former club captain Ilkay Gundogan is gone and Walker, you sense, is giving it a big pitch to take the armband permanently after wearing it in recent weeks.
He is about to sign a two-year extension, until 2026, and wants to cement his importance after coming close to joining Bayern Munich over the summer.
‘I always wanted to play for City but I had to do what was right for me and my future,’ Walker said. ‘That was just whichever club gave me the most years. I’ve experienced things I only dreamt of here — especially last season — so why would I want to leave a club like this?
‘It wasn’t like I was going to a worse club, because Bayern are massive. Look what Harry Kane is doing there.’
Walker did have an awkward encounter with Bayern during pre-season, when City faced them in Tokyo, and it was speculated in Germany that he would sit the friendly out.
On returning home, Guardiola invited the right back for dinner at Deansgate’s Japanese restaurant MUSU to discuss the future — the City boss took care of the bill — and it was decided the 33-year would be sticking around.
Julian Alvarez had scored in his third successive home game to open the occasion with 31 minutes on the clock at the Etihad
‘I was contracted to City, so what do you want me to do?’ he said of that friendly appearance. ‘Say I am not playing because I want to force a move to Bayern? That is not me as a person. I had an obligation to play.
‘Bayern was close. But things can turn. I just want to play football. The money, I don’t care about it. I shouldn’t be worrying about money.’
The captaincy? ‘It is an honour and a privilege, so of course I want it. One million per cent, I’ve developed as a leader. I have picked up different things from Vincent Kompany, Ledley King, John Terry, Steven Gerrard. Hopefully I am stand-in until Kevin’s back or I get it officially. That’s up to the lads and staff.
‘I’m probably not as straight down the line as Vinny but I feel you have to manage the group of lads in front of you in the way you feel is best.’ For now, Walker’s challenge has been accepted.
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