By Jonah Ruddock
Manchester City’s twenty one match winning streak was ended by Manchester United last Sunday at a derby match that ended 2-0, with a goal scored by Bruno Fernandes during a penalty kick in the first minute of the game and a second-half breakaway by Luke Shaw. This was City’s first loss in all competitions since November. They retain their position at the top of the Premier League, with Man United eleven points behind them in second place, and are also top of the Champions League with a three point lead over FC Porto.
Despite their impressive past track record, Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola views the team’s winning streak as one of their greatest achievements. “In this period, in this era, with this situation… the toughest period in England, [to have] no one week of rest for three or four months, every three days a game, with the COVID, injury situations. To be on this kind of run – winning, winning, winning – means mental strength,” he said.
Even those of us who aren’t Man City fans must admit that their streak was impressive, but how does it hold up in football’s history? The overall record for longest winning streak is held by the Portuguese team Benfica, with twenty nine successive victories from 1971-1973. Other teams that Man City failed to surpass are Welsch side The New Saints, who won twenty seven consecutive games in 2016, the German Dinamo Zagreb, who had a run of twenty eight games in 2008, and others- but it should also be kept in mind that there wasn’t a pandemic raging then. COVID-19 has added many difficulties into the mix.
However, there is a team facing not only the plague but massive corruption: the Laotian Lanexang United, who are currently in the midst of a nineteen-match winning streak. Although they chose to withdraw from national and regional competitions after a match-fixing scandal swept through Laos in 2017, resulting in the Asian Football Confederation handing out life bans to twenty two players (none of which were associated with Lanexang United), the team still exists and their winning streak has not yet officially ended. “We had a zero tolerance at our club towards corruption, but even so, it was not feasible to continue in 2017, even after our winning streak the previous season,” their manager, Kaz Patafta, said. “Apart from the corruption problem, it was also hard to commercially sustain our club without the full support of the Lao Football Federation.” If Lanexang United is able to get back in action, they could potentially overturn Benfica’s 29 game record, something they have their eye on.
Manchester City’s success this season has been incredible, especially given the circumstances. It’s safe to assume that their loss to Manchester United won’t slow them down too much. They may have lost their winning streak, but they still have ten games ahead of them to defend to their spot at the top of the league.