Manchester City have won the Champions League at long last after beating Inter Milan 1-0 in Istanbul. They become the 6th English club to reach the summit of the European club landscape and it their 17th trophy in 13 years. Does that mean we can now call Man City a Dynasty comparable to the two undisputed dynasties of Liverpool in the 70s & 80s and Manchester United in the 90s & 00s? I am sure Man City fans will say yes but I say not yet.
Where to find the data used in this article
I recommend you download and open this spreadsheet which lists all trophy winners in English Club Football (Men’s) from 1889 to 2023. An explanation of how to use this spreadsheet can be found here.
There is a worksheet called DYNASTY that contains all the tables and graphics shown in this article. On the DATA1889-2023ENGLAND worksheet, if you enter a team’s name in the yellow cell A1, that team will be highlighted throughout that sheet which is a useful visual way of seeing how dominant a team is.
What is a Dynasty?
My simple definition is a club becomes a dynasty if it is dominant for at least a decade or more. That definition is easy to say but I need to go further and define the following two terms in more detail –
- Timescale – When did the dynasty start and end and does that span at least 10 years?
- Dominance – What does it mean when we say a team is dominating the club football landscape?
What is a Dynasty? – Timescale
By looking at the undisputed Liverpool and Man Utd dynasties in more detail (see next 2 sections), I noticed the following definition of Timescale seemed to work.
- The Dynasty starts in the season when the team wins the League or Champions League following a period when it was not dynastic.
- The Dynasty ends in the season before the season when the team does not win a trophy AND finishes outside the top 4 places in the league.
This means once a Dynasty starts, it continues provided the club wins a trophy or finishes in the top 4. As can be seen in the next sections, the Liverpool Dynasty began in 1973 when Liverpool won the League (& the UEFA Cup). It ended in 1992 because in 1993, Liverpool did not win a trophy and finished outside the top 4 in the Premier League. 1993 saw the start of the Man Utd dynasty when they won the league and it ended in 2013 since they failed to win a trophy in 2014 and finished outside the Top 4.
Man City won their first title in 2012 and have won a trophy or finished in the Top 4 in every year since 2012. Since that timescale exceeds 10 years, I regard it as a Dynasty but is Man City’s dynasty as dominant as Liverpool’s & Man Utd’s?
The Liverpool Dynasty 1973-1992
In the spreadsheet I linked to above on the DATA1889-2023ENGLAND sheet, you will see something like this if you enter Liverpool in cell A1.
If we count the number of trophies won in these 20 years by Liverpool and other clubs, there is no question Liverpool dominated this era with 25 trophies, 15 of which were summits of League titles or European Cups (as the Champions League was called back then). A way I like to put the 25 trophies into context is to ask how many trophies could Liverpool have won in those 20 years? The answer is 75 which comes from 3 domestic trophies each year plus 1 European trophy LESS the 5 years from 1986 to 1990 when English clubs were banned from Europe meaning Liverpool could not compete for a 4th trophy. That means Liverpool won 1 in 3 of the trophies they competed in over a 20 year period which is true dominance.
Note – the points column in the table below uses 3pts for winning a trophy and 1 point for a runner up place. These points are doubled to 6 & 2 for the Summit trophies (League & Champions League) where I also award 1 point for 3rd/4th place in league or semi final in Champions League.
The Man Utd Dynasty 1993-2013
Unlike Liverpool, Man Utd won 3 cups in the 3 years prior to the start of the dynasty in 1993 so a case can be made to say the dynasty begin in 1990 instead. However, i think dynasties are ultimately marked by reaching the summit so I am comfortable with using 1993 as the starting point.
Over the 21 year dynastic timescale, Man Utd won 22 trophies of which 15 were summits. In theory, Man Utd could have won 84 trophies so that means they won 26% of the available trophies.
The Arsenal Dynasty 1998-2017
This one will surprise people but Arsenal meet my definition of a dynastic timescale of at least 10 years because they won a trophy or finished in the top 4 for a 20 year period starting with their league title in 1998.
However, unlike Liverpool and Man Utd, Arsenal did not dominate this 20 year period. Both Man Utd and Chelsea won more trophies than Arsenal. Out of 80 possible trophies, Arsenal won only 10 including 3 summits, a trophy winning rate of 1 in 8 which is half of Man Utd’s. The value of this Arsenal dynastic period is that it allows me to define dominance later on.
The Chelsea Dynasty 2005-2015
One reason why Arsenal did not dominate their 20 year timescale is that it overlapped with Chelsea’s 11 year dynasty which began in 2005 with their 1st league title in 50 years and ended in 2016 when they failed to win a trophy and finished outside of the top 4.
Chelsea trophy winning years actually span a longer period from 1997 to 2021 but they were not dominant before and after their 11 year dynastic timescale. During these 11 years, they won 13 out of 44 possible trophies which at 30% is a higher rate of trophy winning than Man Utd’s but lower than Liverpool’s. However, Man Utd reached the summit 6 times to Chelsea’s 5 so this indicates that Chelsea were not completely dominant in the way Man Utd & Liverpool were.
The Man City Dynasty 2012-2023
Since 2012, there is no question Man City are the dominant team in English (Men’s) Club Football and the dynastic timescale is not over yet.
Only Chelsea have come close with 9 trophies to Man City’s 16 but Man City have reached the summit 8 times to Chelsea’s 4. However, Chelsea have won the Champions League twice to Man City only triumph at the weekend and they’ve also won the Europa League twice in that period. So Chelsea fans might concede that Man City are dominant in England but they are not yet as dominant as Chelsea in Europe.
What is a Dynasty? – Dominance
These are the only clubs that meet my definition of a dynastic timescale lasting at least 10 years but I think you can see there is a difference in how dominant they were. Having reviewed all five dynasties, I have arrived at this 3-point definition of Dominance to go with my Timescale definition.
Given it is a 3-point definition, it was natural for me to treat each point as a Dynasty Star. That means each of the five dynasties can be given between 0 & 3 Stars as I have done below.
In effect, I automatically regarded the Liverpool and Man Utd dynasties as 3-star Dynasties. Both won more than half of the league titles in their timescales and at least a quarter of the trophies they competed for. Both have also won the Champions League at least twice and I do think a dynasty should be able to do this. Lots of teams win it once but twice indicates a pedigree that dynasties should have in my mind.
This is why I regard Man City’s dynasty as a 2-star dynasty instead of 3-star. They are matching Liverpool for Title & Trophy Dominance but they need to win the Champions League again to achieve the 3rd star.
At the other end, it was easy for me to say Arsenal’s dynasty had zero stars. Chelsea are more interesting since they matched Man City & Liverpool for trophy dominance but their problem was dominating the summits which is why I mark them as 1-star. Interesting, if I could ignore 2016 (when they fell out of the top 4 and didn’t win a trophy) and extend the dynastic timescale to 2021 when Chelsea won their 2nd Champions League, they would gain a 2nd dynasty star. This is because by 2021, Chelsea would have won 17 trophies out of 68 possible which is exactly 25% and just holds onto the trophy dominance star though this would have lost by 2022 and the dynasty would have ended in 2023.
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