Inside Manchester City's title celebrations: Last-minute squad beers and 9am Covid tests

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·4-min read
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Inside Man City's title celebrations - last-minute squad beers and 9am Covid tests - MANEL ESTIARTE/INSTAGRAM
Inside Man City's title celebrations - last-minute squad beers and 9am Covid tests - MANEL ESTIARTE/INSTAGRAM

Manchester City players started heading towards the Etihad Campus during Tuesday night’s match at Old Trafford, when it emerged they could be fewer than 90 minutes away from the champagne coming out of the fridge.

Pep Guardiola put the bubbly on ice at the start of the month but had been made to wait. Leicester City’s goals made it look increasingly like the title was going to be settled without City players on the pitch, so the squad started to mobilise.

Caglar Soyuncu’s header meant the trophy was slipping out of Manchester United’s hands, with 24 minutes to see out before the celebrations could start. Edinson Cavani and Marcus Rashford came off the bench in an attempt to prolong the title race but ended up marching down the tunnel at full-time with little reflection on the game.

At City’s training ground, players were at least together for the moment they won the club’s fifth Premier League title.

It was not quite the scenes of five years ago when Jamie Vardy hosted a party when Leicester’s miracle title win was sealed, or Liverpool’s garden party last season when they sealed their first triumph for 30 years and had Jurgen Klopp dancing into the night.

City’s celebration was more "just a few beers together" from a squad with work still to do this season, according to a source.

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Club captain Fernandinho had emphasised how the target is now a first Champions League for the club in a fortnight when they play Chelsea in the final.

So it was never going to be a case of having days of celebration before simply turning up on Friday’s fixture against Newcastle United.

"Rest assured we will continue to do everything we can to bring the Champions League home this season," stressed the Brazilian.

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In fact, there was no time for hangovers. Guardiola had given his players two days off at the start of the week following the defeat to Chelsea at the weekend when they missed the opportunity to clinch the title on their own turf. They were back for Covid-19 testing this morning between 9am and 10am, as per standard procedure, before starting training and preparing for St James’ Park.

City may receive guards of honour in their remaining games but will not lift the trophy until the final day of the season when they face Everton, with the Government planning to allow fans into stadiums for the final matches of the season.

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The club want to celebrate their fifth title in 10 seasons with former players as much as their current ones. Guardiola has been quick to reference Joe Hart, Vincent Kompany and Pablo Zabaleta, who were at the club when Sheikh Mansour took over 13 years ago and helped turn them into title contenders.

Players from the era when City dropped into the third tier and fought their way back will also be celebrated. Shaun Goater is among them, as is Paul Dickov, who was watching the Leicester victory as an analyst on Sky Sports when the title was sealed.

"It was absolutely fantastic from Leicester on the night and from Manchester City all season," said Dickov. "They have been a level above everyone else and it is thoroughly deserved. Whether it was this game or Thursday it was only a matter of time.

"The quadruple was always a tough ask but Pep has said himself the Premier League was the toughest one. People were saying Pep had lost it at the start of the season and City were going backwards. To go on their unbeaten run (28 matches) blew everyone away.

"They found a way to win without a No 9. It will be a completely different Manchester City team and a different game for the final and I fancy them strongly to add to what they’ve done. It will be a great night on Friday with the pressure off both teams.

"I’m super proud. I was involved in a squad that relegated to the second division and had to fight back, to see where they are is just amazing and I’m delighted for the fans more than anything."

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