NOT even “High Priest” Pep Guardiola could prevent Manchester City’s halo from slipping this season.
The Etihad chief was anointed by managing director Brian Marwood as he looked back on an incredible decade at the club.
But chief exececutive Ferran Soriano knows City have no divine right to win the Premier League title.
He believes the slump this season is “normal” in light of what they have achieved in the last two campaigns.
Friday night’s 3-2 defeat at Wolves was their FIFTH in 19 games so far — one more than they suffered in the whole of last season.
And after blowing a 2-0 lead, boss Guardiola threw in the towel on their hopes of a third straight crown.
But on the back of incredible back-to-back titles, Soriano said a slip was only what they expected in the club’s corridors of power.
The Spaniard said: “I would say that what’s happening is normal.
“What’s not normal is what happened the last two years where Manchester City got 198 points.
“The Premier League is very competitive — any team can win against any team. Obviously we’re not happy with the amount of games we lost but that’s the nature of competition, the nature of football.
“We’re now in December, we shouldn’t be talking about where we’re going to end the season. We should be going game by game.”
City will still have a chance to win three pots this season — the Carabao and FA Cups and the Champions League.
But the former Barcelona executive admitted the players must not think they can take it easy in the Prem — even though the title has gone.
Speaking at an event in Dubai, Soriano said: “You cannot switch your intensity from one competition to the other so quickly.
“If we want to win the League Cup, the FA Cup, the Champions League, we have to be very intense in all the competitions, including the Premier League, regardless of whether we have a chance to win or not.”
City will go down as the club of the decade even if they lose their final game of it against Sheffield United today.
Guardiola has masterminded the creation of a trademark brand of football that has brought two record-breaking Premier League crowns — on top of their top-flight wins from 2011-12 and 2013-14 — with last season’s title forming part of an historic domestic Treble.
But this season has brought a reality check and the man himself acknowledges it is time for City to reinvent themselves again.
Speaking after the Wolves defeat, Guardiola said: “The club in the last decade has made incredible steps with different managers and players.
“In ten years, they have won four Premier Leagues, so it is not bad, considering this league. We were incredible for two seasons but now in this competition, the Premier League, we have lost more games than we did the last two seasons.
“And you have to adapt. You have to analyse and move forward.”
One big issue is whether Guardiola wants to stay to lead City’s fight for football’s most glittering prizes against runaway league leaders Liverpool and the top clubs at home and abroad.
This is his fourth season at City and he has never spent longer than that in any job as head coach.
Both Soriano and Guardiola have hinted he will stay to see out his contract — which ends in summer 2021 — at the very least. And Marwood, who has been key to City’s unforgettable ride over the last ten years — said the Catalan has been the perfect man to be in charge.
The former Arsenal wide man was football administrator — effectively City’s director of football — for the first half of this glittering decade.
Marwood — the MD of Global Football for the City Football Group – said: “We wanted to create a philosophy and methodology very early.
“We have had this vision, this DNA, of the way we wanted to play. That has evolved over the last ten years. We have now got Pep, he is the architect of that, he is the High Priest of that methodology.
“That fit between him and the club has been fantastic.”
Marwood’s claim that there is little disruption when there is a managerial change at City will be tested as never before when Pep goes.
Marwood added: “I’m not sure whether one team will dominate for the period we’ve seen in the past, because of the number of clubs investing in their teams and infrastructure to really challenge, I think that’s what makes this league really exciting.
“We will always be looking carefully at what is required to compete with the best teams in the country.
“We know we have no divine right to win titles.”