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Man City: Documentary on last season shows how Pep Guardiola keeps his side on title track 

The top of Porto’s five-star Palacio Hotel was sombre and reflective the morning after Manchester City’s biggest night. Finally a Champions League showpiece, only to fall at the hands of Chelsea. Many felt they had not done themselves justice at the climax of a season that saw Pep Guardiola’s team send so many records tumbling.

The club’s chairman, Khaldoon Al Mubarak, had not been able to speak with Kevin De Bruyne after the defeat. De Bruyne, who left the Estadio do Dragao in tears, was sent straight to hospital after suffering nose and eye socket fractures.

Al Mubarak wanted to relay a message to their talisman – one that he must hope sets the tone for the months ahead. The pair sat down on the hotel’s sofas overlooking Portugal’s second city. ‘I wanted to thank him for the season he’d given this team, for the commitment to the club,’ Al Mubarak said.

Manchester City are releasing a documentary on the final 46 days of last season

City won the Premier League but lost to Chelsea in the Champions League final in May

City won the Premier League but lost to Chelsea in the Champions League final in May

‘I wanted to make sure that he remembers that this is how it feels losing a final and with his leadership – he’s such an important player for this team – we will be back and that he will win a Champions League for us.’ 

Guardiola had been given the same message when receiving his runner-up medal from the chairman on the podium the night prior. Al Mubarak wanted to quickly impress on his main protagonists that he knows City have the capabilities to line up as finalists again in Saint Petersburg next May.

That is the goal for Guardiola at a club now more comfortable leaning into its naked ambition of lifting the biggest prize – the only one they are missing. But he will realise that topping last year – romping to the Premier League title, effectively three games from an unprecedented quadruple – is going to be some ask when the circus rolls up again at Tottenham on Sunday.

The Catalan’s job has always been a little different to the majority of his contemporaries. City win so much that while evolving tactically will always retain its importance, the attempts to preserve a spirit, to prevent arrogance and complacency, always trump all. 

It is why he wants at least a couple of new faces in every summer. A different voice, a player to keep others on their toes. He is of course fortunate to possess the backing of the club to recruit regularly.

At £100million, the most expensive British player ever Jack Grealish is the chosen one this time. Guardiola wants Harry Kane to follow him. It is no mistake that aside from being phenomenal footballers, both targets have pre-existing relationships with those at the club.

The City manager also believes these arrivals help freshen camaraderie. The electronic dartboard will be with them at the hotel before facing Tottenham this weekend, so too the table tennis tables. 

The two sky blue banners reading “together” and “we fight ’till the end” – the first of which signed by the players – will hang inside the away dressing room.

City have signed Jack Grealish for £100m and hope to add Harry Kane through the doors

City have signed Jack Grealish for £100m and hope to add Harry Kane through the doors

They will mess about in groups playing little indoor games of two-touch to relax. Kyle Walker will bark a stream of consciousness in the hour before kick-off, acting as background music. Ruben Dias will approach the middle of the room to deliver his thoughts. Captain Fernandinho will wait until nearer kick-off.

City are releasing a documentary, titled “Together”, detailing the final 46 days of last season as they lifted the club’s fifth title in a decade and went so close to conquering Europe. 

In there it presents a closeness that belies any personal misgivings over game time that can fester and partly points to why they succeeded in a year of empty stadiums and general indifference across the country.

The wildest scenes understandably came in Europe as they broke new ground. The entire squad jubilantly FaceTimed the injured third-choice goalkeeper Scott Carson sat at home in the moments after beating Borussia Dortmund in Germany.

Nathan Ake later entertained on a white piano at the Radisson Blu hotel over a dinner attended by club legend Mike Summerbee and chief executive Ferran Soriano. 

The defender’s performance on the keys prompted a rapturous reception. Guardiola has always insisted that those moments are always spent as a group, the South American barbeques after big nights, the parties after silverware.

The documentary shows how Pep Guardiola keeps his successful side on title track

The documentary shows how Pep Guardiola keeps his successful side on title track

It shows Nathan Ake entertaining on the piano while Guardiola gets fascinated by the formation of geese

It shows Nathan Ake entertaining on the piano while Guardiola gets fascinated by the formation of geese

There was an afternoon last year that Guardiola became fascinated by the formation of geese in flight captured on camera when reviewing drone footage of training. He enthused about their teamwork to performance analyst Harry Dunn and notices similarities between that and how a squad should behave together. Leaders at the front and those who follow dutifully.

They have to reproduce last season’s brilliance all over again and yes, while Guardiola is afforded the very best in every department, there is a real knack to replicating success so often. 

Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester United are stronger than ever and the trick now is to stand up to sustained questions from a number of different angles simultaneously. Al Mubarak’s words in the aftermath of Porto suggests they are adamant that staying stationary is not an option.

Together is released on Thursday at 10am exclusively to City+ members for one week before being released globally on YouTube.

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