Bravado seems to be the default attitude for many of those employed at the elite level of English football, but even so, Manchester City captain’s Vincent Kompany’s comments on Thursday struck a particularly ballsy note.
Asked whether the club could win an unprecedented quadruple, Kompany said rewriting English football’s history books was not just a possibility, but an inevitability. Even if City do not ascend to the realms of greatness this season, fate - so City's skipper claims - has decreed that they will soon.
"We can't promise it will happen now, but eventually it will have to happen," Kompany said.
"We are the players at the moment who have been chosen to do it. If it's not us then it will be other players. This club definitely has a target to win every competition possible."
Perhaps such an iron conviction, or even a sense of entitlement, is natural at a club owned by Sheikh Mansour, whose personal wealth has been estimated at around £20 billion.
But the declaration is firmly at odds with English football’s history, which has never seen a quadruple. Manchester United have come the closest, winning the Champions League, Premier League, FA Cup and league Cup in 1998-99 (they were knocked out of the League Cup quarter-finals by Tottenham).
One British club has done a quadruple, however: Celtic won all four major trophies available to them in 1966-67, lifting the European Cup, the Scottish First Division, the Scottish Cup and the Scottish League Cup.
Still, there is no denying that City are well placed at present. They have a 6-0 first-leg lead over West Ham in the semi-final of the League Cup, with a struggling Manchester United or seriously struggling Sunderland awaiting in the final. They are in the fourth round of the FA Cup, and sit second in the Premier League courtesy of some ominous form.
Rather more difficult is a Champions League last-16 tie against Barcelona, with European success looking the most daunting barrier to Kompany’s aspirations.
But is the quadruple really as impossible as it might seem? Here are five reasons why Kompany might be right.
1. Goals, goals, goals
The summer appointment of Manuel Pellegrini heralded a more progressive style of play than that overseen by Roberto Mancini and the Chilean has gone on the offensive, with City scoring a quite remarkable 99 goals from 33 games in all competitions. At home they average four a game – scoring 64 from 16 matches – a frankly ludicrous statistic this deep into the season.
If such form can be sustained, and there’s no reason to suggest it will not, City will be very hard to eliminate from knockout competitions, and can count on their unassailable form making them formidable in the league too. If they score against Cardiff on Saturday at home – and they surely will – City will become the first English team to ever reach 100 goals for the season by the end of January. This is history in the making.
2. Everyone’s getting in on the act
One of the key aspects of Manchester United’s treble success was the way Sir Alex Ferguson’s side spread the responsibility for goalscoring, with strikers Andy Cole, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Dwight Yorke all reaching double figures in the league and scoring at least 18 in all competitions. Incredibly, Sergio Aguero already has 20 in all competitions, Alvaro Negredo has 21 and Edin Dzeko has 15. Even Yaya Toure has contributed 13.
Even if one or two of those players go on a lean run, the others will pick up the slack. The midweek win over Blackburn demonstrated their potency as a strikeforce perfectly: Dzeko and Negredo both scored two, before Aguero bagged one for himself just 49 seconds after making his return from injury as a substitute.
3. A deep, deep squad
The strongest squad in the Premier League either belongs to Chelsea or City, depending on how you rate the players available to them – and Jose Mourinho says City’s is “vastly superior”. What is without doubt is that City are able to rotate at will – even doing so with goalkeepers Joe Hart and Costel Pantilimon – to keep their players nice and fresh.
At left-back, Gael Clichy has started 10 games in the league while Aleksandar Kolarov has started 12. At centre-back, Martin Demichelis has 10 starts, Matija Nastasic another 10, Joleon Lescott 7 and Kompany 12 – though clearly the skipper would have started far more games had he not been injured. In fact the only potential concern is the fact Toure has started every single Premier League game and Fernandinho has missed only one – but apart from their central midfielders, City are sharing the load.
4. A united squad
City’s powerbrokers infamously cited the need for a more “holistic” approach when dismissing Mancini after a shock FA Cup final defeat to Wigan Athletic, and Pellegrini has undeniably fostered a more favourable atmosphere.
The sale of Mario Balotelli clearly helped, and we haven’t heard any reports of training ground bust-ups this season when previously there was a scrap every few months. A febrile atmosphere wasn’t always a problem under Mancini – after all he did win the league and FA Cup – but by the end relations were strained amongst the squad and their boss. Unity will only help improve City's chances.
5. Pellegrini is Mr Cool
We all know what can happen to managers when the pressure of a title race begins to become too much – just look at Kevin Keegan’s “I’d love it” rant or Rafa Benitez’s infamous “facts” press conference. However, so far Pellegrini has been impervious to any such breakdowns and looks far too relaxed to engage in any mind game at all.
When Alan Pardew roared some rather rude language at him at the weekend, Pellegrini remained composed and aloof, as he always does. As this article in the Independent explained this week, he will simply not be rattled when the pressure is on at the end of the campaign.
What do you think? Do Manchester City have a chance of becoming the first English club to win the quadruple?