SJA Sports Team of the Year: The case for Manchester City

VOTING HAS NOW CLOSED to decide the winners of three major categories at the British Sports Awards, to be held at The Kia Oval in London on 7 December; Jake Wightman, Beth Mead and the Lionesses claimed the equivalent 2022 honours; who will take the top prizes this year?

By Lewis Thompson

For 24 years, only one English side had the honour of winning the coveted continental treble in men’s football.

Manchester City became the second in 2023 as they lifted the FA Cup, Premier League and their first-ever Champions League in arguably the club’s greatest season ever.

The Citizens won 44 of their 60 games played across all competitions, scoring an incredible 148 goals, and losing only six times.

Former Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand called the group “immortal” and “out of this world” on BT Sport when City won the Champions League on June 10.

Rodri’s goal secured Pep Guardiola’s side the treble in a landmark event for the club as they beat Inter Milan 1-0 in Istanbul.

City scored 32 goals across 12 games on their route to the final, beating RB Leipzig (8-1), Bayern Munich (4-1), and Real Madrid (5-1) in the knockout stages.

Only two European sides have ever had a better goal difference in the competition’s history: Bayern Munich (+35) 2019-20 and Real Madrid (+31) in 2013-14.

After the final, captain at the time Ilkay Gundogan described winning the treble as the “ultimate achievement for any club team”.

This sentiment also perfectly encapsulates the Citizens’ Premier League season, as they secured their third consecutive title in May with three games to spare.

Since the start of the Premier League era in 1992, only Manchester United had previously won three titles in a row, a feat now matched by City.

Guardiola’s squad combined for 94 goals across their league campaign, with Erling Haaland contributing 36 on his own.

On 3 June, one week before their European triumph, City got another one up on their  Manchester rivals, beating Erik Ten Hag’s side 2-1 to lift their seventh FA Cup.

Gundogan scored the quickest goal in the competition’s history when he scored past David De Gea after 13 seconds. 

On the road to Wembley, the Citizens didn’t concede a single goal until the final, scoring 19 of their own as Guardiola kept his 100% record in domestic cup finals as City boss.

City’s European dominance alone more than justifies their nomination to the SJA Team of the year.

Yet, when you consider the domestic double on top of this and pair it with their prolific goal-scoring prowess, there is little room left for debate about Manchester City’s worthiness for gaining their final award of that illustrious season.

Sports journalist Lewis Thompson is a member of the SJA Academy – find out more about membership here.