Pep Guardiola may have begun the season hoping to overhaul Liverpool – but it is Welsh side The New Saints that the Manchester City manager currently has in his sights.
Guardiola’s formidable City team have won their last 21 matches in all competitions, a record for an English top-flight side, as they chase an unprecedented quadruple.
Yet the Premier League leaders are still six wins short of equalling the overall world record for successive victories for a top division side, set by TNS four seasons ago.
The Cymru Premier outfit won 27 games in a row between August and December 2016, eclipsing the 26 straight won by Dutch giants Ajax in 1971-72, to establish a new Guinness World Record.
TNS striker Greg Draper feels it is extraordinary that a team such as City could chase down the figure given the high quality of opponents they face in England and Europe.
The former New Zealand international told the PA news agency: “Even at our level, to win 27 games in a row, you don’t even dream of setting those sort of targets or goals because they just seem so unrealistic.
“For them to do it in the Premier League and Champions League, you struggle to comprehend it sometimes. It is an unbelievable effort.”
The winning sequence set TNS up for what was the sixth of the eight consecutive league titles they won from 2012-19.
The world record was barely something that registered early in the run but Draper admits nerves did kick in the closer they got to the Ajax mark.
“Until we got to 20 games I had no idea what the world record even was,” said Draper. “You play wanting to win trophies and leagues.
“But then you start to think it would be nice to hold a world record like that. The closer we got the more excited we got but probably the more nervous we got.
“The game we played to equal the record and the game we played to break the record were probably two of our worst performances.
“You could tell the nerves were there. Luckily we managed to stumble over the line and get the record.”
Those two landmark wins both came against Cefn Druids, by scorelines of 4-0 and 2-0, in the week after Christmas in 2016. The run came to an end as they conceded an injury-time equaliser to draw 3-3 at Newtown in their next outing.
Draper is proud to have played a part in history and is quietly hoping City fall short over the course of the next six matches.
“To look back now and think you’ve held a world record like that, I think everyone that was part of it is really proud,” he said.
“So deep down I suppose we hope Man City don’t break it because we want to hold onto it for a little bit longer.
“But they’ve been on a great run – and it’s not just the run they’re on, it’s the level they’re doing it at, while obviously Pep’s been one of the best managers in the world for the last decade or so. Wherever he has gone he has done well.
“You’ve just got to take your hat off to them.”
Enjoy the convenience of having The Sunday Post delivered as a digital ePaper straight to your smartphone, tablet or computer.
Subscribe for only £5.49 a month and enjoy all the benefits of the printed paper as a digital replica.Subscribe