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So Man City look like champions again? It’s not that simple

Erling Haaland is fit and scoring again. That is ominous. Kevin De Bruyne is fit and assisting again. That is ominous. John Stones, the tactical key to last season’s treble, was on the pitch at the same time as both De Bruyne and Haaland since the Champions League final again on Saturday. That is ominous. Manchester City went top of the table, albeit only for two-and-a-half hours. They have won 10 consecutive games in all competitions and are the only side with a 100 per cent record in 2024 which, given their track record of going on long runs of victories in the second half of seasons, is doubly ominous. They beat Everton with a mediocre performance. Which, given how much better their best can be, is ominous.

An adjective has surrounded City of late: ominous. It has been the default description. Everything, it seems, has been interpreted as an omen of future glory; perhaps correctly, certainly using the prism of the past, the quality of players, the track record of the manager. “Champions again,” has been the usual chorus from the stands. City have started to sound like self-fulfilling prophecy and not in the way they were when Joe Royle coined the word ‘Cityitis’ to sum up their self-destructive streak.

Now the harm can come to others. City can intimidate opponents with their presence: Arsenal seemed beaten by the spectre of City in the title race last season as well as the reality of them and the devastating double act of De Bruyne and Haaland. Now it is worth noting that, while City are favourites, Liverpool are actually league leaders, with a summit meeting at Anfield, City’s bogey ground, still to come.

Haaland’s double saw City overcome Everton - but further tests await Guardiola’s side

It is a reason why, amid the