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Thursday 20 June 2019

Richard Dunne: 'City didn’t buy title...they are best of all time'

Pep's team are the greatest of Premier League era but Irish players have to aim to be the best

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola lifts the Premier League trophy at the Amex Stadium last Sunday
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola lifts the Premier League trophy at the Amex Stadium last Sunday

The Premier League season was barely over and the complaints were out, talk that Manchester City had "bought" the league title, among other things.

It's very easy to have lots of money and waste it, as you have seen with Manchester United over the last few years, whereas the recruitment at City in that time has been brilliant, how the manager uses his players is superb, keeping happy the players who aren't playing.

As a manager, as a club, Pep Guardiola and City still want to win trophies. For all the talk about City's money, the clubs they own, when it comes to a league championship the talking is done on the pitch, and if you take them for what they have done on the pitch, they have done what was asked of them.

If you judge it just on the pitch, City have excelled. It's the same with Ireland when there are issues with the FAI, the off-field stuff does not distract the players, they do their jobs on the field in matches and in training, they never let their standards drop.

Change

Liverpool did really well, and in any other year that points tally would be enough to win them the league, but they just came up against what I see as the best Premier League team of all time.

There have been good teams in the Premier League era, and the great thing about Alex Ferguson was his ability to change his teams and bring in new players.

And this could be the just start of something truly great from City. In terms of how they play, the goals they score, how they break records, they are as good as anything we have see in the Premier League years.

Everyone was raving about how good Liverpool were, the improvement they made on the previous season. But the simple fact is, that City were better than them, they were a better team and got more points than Liverpool and any team that wins their last 14 games deserves to win the league. As good as Liverpool are, I feel City this season were undersold because they had done it before, they were reigning champions.

For the manager to be able to go and do it again, get his players to win it again, keep their standards high, that's an amazing thing, not to mention City's disappointment in the Champions League and their ability to recover from it.

Liverpool deserve credit for their part in a very good Premier League season. When City had won 18 games in a row, some people were giving up on the season, said it was over, but Liverpool stayed in there and it's a sign of how they have improved on last season that they kept pace even when City kept up their standards.

There was a gap of 27 points between first and fourth and it's up to the other teams to come back and close that gap next season.

From an Irish point of view it wasn't a great season in the Premier League, with just 15 Irish players getting games. But I'd look at it the same way you'd see a challenge at club level, if Man City have set the standards, and Liverpool tried to match it, it's up to everyone else to try and come up to that standard.

Instead of Irish players looking at the way things are and complaining about how clubs now just take players from all over the world, they have to reach the standards you need now to play in the Premier League. If you are a young Irish player you have to answer the question, do you seriously want to be a footballer or do you just want the glory? If you want to be a footballer you have to do what the top players do, behave in the same manner, live your life the way they do, dedicate yourself to a career where you are determined to reach the top.

We have plenty of people in Ireland who have the ability to make it at a very high level but they need to make sure that they reach the standards off the pitch, to realise the potential that we have in this country.

It's easy to look at Man City or Liverpool and say 'they have all the money in the world, they can buy any player they want'. We have to have the attitude that says 'why can't that be an Irish player?'

We need to stop feeling sorry for ourselves and get there.

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