Chinadaily / Manchester City celebrates with the trophy after winning the English League Cup at Wembley Stadium. Pep Guardiola’s side beat Arsenal 30 in Sunday’s final. PETER NICHOLLS / REUTERS LONDON – Pep Guardiola’s League Cup triumph over Arsenal looks set to usher in a new era of dominance for Manchester City, but he had three old boys to thank for Sunday’s 3-0 win at Wembley.

City was not at its best in a scrappy first half on a cold afternoon, failing to reproduce the swashbuckling soccer it has become renowned for this term.

The highlight of a cagey first period was an oddity of a strike from Sergio Aguero, who netted his 199th City goal direct from a punt downfield by goalkeeper Claudio Bravo – a rare sighting from a Guardiola side.

But it was men against boys after the break as City totally dominated the disappointing Gunners, with further goals from an ecstatic Vincent Kompany and David Silva.

The League Cup might seem like small fry to a man with a glittering CV that includes two Champions League triumphs while in charge of Barcelona and a clutch of league titles with Bayern Munich.

But an emotional Guardiola knows that winning the first silverware is crucial to infusing his runaway Premier League leader with the belief to go on and bag bigger prizes.

“It’s important,” said the manager. “We’re so happy, and big congratulations to all of Manchester City and our fans. This trophy is for Manchester City and not for me.

“The first half was not good but in the second half we played really well.

“We were in the second half like we have been so far (this season), so of course big congratulations for all Manchester City.

“That’s why it’s important to win titles because it’s going to help us win the next games in the Premier League.”

City saw its dreams of a quadruple shattered just six days before the Wembley final when third-tier Wigan Athletic dumped it out of the FA Cup.

But a 13-point league lead means it is champion-elect and it has one foot in the Champions League quarterfinals after a 4-0 victory over Basel in the first leg of its last-16 tie.

Guardiola said although winning his first trophy at the club means a lot to him personally, he is just a chapter in City’s history.

He knows that for all he has reshaped the club in his image, it was three veterans of City’s defining 2012 Premier League title triumph who delivered the goods on Sunday.

Title trio

Guardiola said Aguero, Silva and Kompany were three legends who helped turn the club from perennial underachievers into regular trophy winners, capable of going toe to toe with the heavyweights of Europe and challenging regularly for honors.

“They help us to understand what it means for the club because they won titles, they put pressure on us to continue to win titles,” Guardiola said.

“If we are able to win more titles in the future the people who are coming here, they have to know here you have to win titles and that’s why it’s so, so important.”

A relaxed-looking Guardiola thanked the club’s hierarchy for sticking with him during a barren first season at the helm last term when British media questioned whether his “pure” brand of soccer would work in England.

He admitted he imposed heavy demands on his players but said he never doubted himself.

Belgian midfielder Kevin De Bruyne, arguably City’s standout player this season, said the sky is the limit for the club.

“We have had a good season already and now we need to keep going,” he said.

“We have this one in the bag and now we have to maintain the same focus in the Premier League and the Champions League. The potential for this club is amazing, and the way we play is probably one of the best in the world.”

Agence France-presse


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