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EXCLUSIVE Tweak of tactics by Guardiola may just lead to Man City's quadruple dream

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Kevin De Bruyne (centre) celebrates scoring City's first goal against Dortmund with team-mate Riyad Mahrez. Photo: Nick Potts/PA Wire

Kevin De Bruyne (centre) celebrates scoring City's first goal against Dortmund with team-mate Riyad Mahrez. Photo: Nick Potts/PA Wire

Borussia Dortmund's Erling Haaland could be a danger to Man City in the second leg of the Champions League quarter-final. Photo: Nick Potts/PA Wire.

Borussia Dortmund's Erling Haaland could be a danger to Man City in the second leg of the Champions League quarter-final. Photo: Nick Potts/PA Wire.

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Kevin De Bruyne (centre) celebrates scoring City's first goal against Dortmund with team-mate Riyad Mahrez. Photo: Nick Potts/PA Wire

Manchester City will have every right to be hailed as the greatest team in English football history if they complete an unpredicted quadruple this season – but I suspect they will come up short.

Plenty of great teams have had a go at winning the clean sweep of the Premier League, Champions League, FA Cup and League Cup, yet they have all fallen at one of the final hurdles – and there is a good reason for that.

City manager Pep Guardiola hinted earlier this week that the pressure of trying to become the first team to win the quadruple is weighing heavily on his players – and I can see where he is coming from, because this is one of the toughest challenges in all of sport.

When you are playing for a top club and chasing trophies, you go into every game believing you will win, and not even thinking about the consequences of defeat.

Yet the position City are in now has to focus the minds of the players in Guardiola’s dressing room, because at some point you have to think about what could happen in the next few weeks.

Whether it’s the pressure of trying to achieve something so special, or the mental and physical fatigue of playing so many massive games one after the next, something tends to give eventually.

To their credit, City have been able to handle the pressure of winning games in the last few months, but I look at the game against Manchester United a few weeks back and it showed what can happen against good quality opposition.

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Borussia Dortmund's Erling Haaland could be a danger to Man City in the second leg of the Champions League quarter-final. Photo: Nick Potts/PA Wire.

Borussia Dortmund's Erling Haaland could be a danger to Man City in the second leg of the Champions League quarter-final. Photo: Nick Potts/PA Wire.

Borussia Dortmund's Erling Haaland could be a danger to Man City in the second leg of the Champions League quarter-final. Photo: Nick Potts/PA Wire.

United scored early, played a counter-attacking game against City, and came away from the Etihad with a comprehensive 2-0 win. It was an off-day for City and the opposition were good enough to take advantage.

If that happens in one of the cup competitions, the quadruple fantasy will be dead in an instant. The Premier League title is in the bag, but the cup competitions are laced with uncertainty and a dip in form could see them slip up in all three over the next couple of weeks.

Spurs could easily beat them in the Carabao Cup final in a couple of weeks time, as Jose Mourinho’s brand of smash-and-grab football has worked well against City during his time as Tottenham boss.

The FA Cup semi-final against Chelsea will be another tough game, while Borussia Dortmund showed in the first leg of the Champions League quarter-final on Tuesday night that they could be a big threat to City in the second leg next week, with players like Erling Haaland capable of turning any game on its head.

If City get through the Dortmund tie, they might well have Paris Saint-Germain, with Kylian Mbappe and Neymar coming at them, so the magnitude of the task they are trying to achieve cannot be downplayed.

Without a doubt, they will be assured of legendary status forever more if they end up with all four trophies at the end of May, but the odds still have to be stacked against them achieving it.

It would take a very special team to pull off a feat like this and there still have to be some question marks over whether this City team falls into that category.

When they won the league with 100 points and 100 goals a few years back, Guardiola’s side were being hailed as one of the best teams we had seen in the history of the game – and it was easy to see why.

That team played with a style and class that was too much for everyone in the Premier League, but this City team are a little bit different. I suspect Guardiola looked at what happened with Liverpool getting the better of them last season and he has adapted the way this City team play.

Most of the games they play lack a little interest at the moment, as they are better than most of their opponents and the outcome of the game is almost inevitable.

The entertainment levels have dipped with City this season, as Guardiola has tightened up at the back and they are a more solid team than they were a couple of years ago. The trade-off is they appear less vulnerable and don’t look like they have a weakness.

They are relentless, they don’t let you out of their own half and they strangle teams into submission without firing goals at the rate they did a couple of years back.

Maybe this brand of more efficient football will give them a better chance to compete in all four competitions because they are not taking as much out of themselves by playing the 100-miles-an-hour stuff they were known for in their previous title-winning seasons.

Yet the truth is that we just don’t know whether the quadruple is possible until a team pulls it off. Could this be the season when the miracle happens?

This is a very strange time in all of our lives and the absence of spectators and atmosphere inside stadiums is adding to the unpredictable nature of the matches we are watching.

That could play into City’s hands as Pep and the players can concentrate on the matches and don’t have to worry the nerves that may have affected them from City fans in the stands – or the animosity of the opposition supporters.

So while I could expect them to come up short in at least one of the cup competitions, City are now within sight of an impossible dream. It will be fascinating to see if they can turn it into reality.

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