Pep Guardiola hailed the “toughest title I have won in my career by far” after his Manchester City side retained the Premier League trophy at Liverpool’s expense.
City came from behind to win 4-1 at Brighton and Hove Albion on Sunday and become the first team to successfully defend England’s top-flight crown for a decade.
Last season’s record-breaking haul of 100 points came at a canter as all challengers fell by the wayside, but it was a very different story this time around.
Liverpool’s relentless pursuit of City meant Guardiola’s men had to win each of their final 14 matches to prevail by a slender margin of 98 points to 97.
The 48-year-old now has two Premier League winners’ medals to go alongside his three apiece from LaLiga and the Bundesliga, but he thinks this one stands out.
“First we have to say congratulations to Liverpool and thank you so much because they help us to push and to increase our standards from last season,” Guardiola told Sky Sports.
“Competing against this team we had to do what we have done. It’s incredible.
“I think last season Manchester City made the standard higher and Liverpool helped us to be there all the time.
“To win the title we had to win 14 games in a row. We knew for two or three months we could not drop one point. We did it playing all competitions until the end, except the Champions League semi-finals and final.
“It is incredible to do it after 100 points. Normally you have the tendency to go down and Liverpool helped us to be there and be consistent.
“We talked about going game by game but it was really difficult. It’s not [just] my feeling, a feeling of all the club, the players, the staff – it is the toughest title I have won in my career by far.”
City will now turn their attentions towards completing an unprecedented domestic treble in next weekend’s FA Cup final against Watford.
It is a prospect one of their standout players this term, Bernardo Silva, is relishing.
“We arrived close to the points that we did last season and it was a great season for us,” the Portugal playmaker said.
“Of course we still have the FA Cup, which is very important for us because, if we win it, we win the treble, which no-one has ever done. We want to do it. We are so happy with this achievement and the back to back titles – this club has never won two Premier League titles in a row.”