Neil Humphreys: Why City must smash records
History should remember champions who never compromised
Break every available record, Manchester City. Smash them. Obliterate them. Leave the history books in no doubt of Pep Guardiola's dogged genius.
City belong in the pantheon. They've hit the sweet spot all season long.
Aside from how their wealth was acquired, their expensive football was never less than expansive. They achieved so much more than a silver pot. They stirred cynical souls. They made the game seem beautiful again.
Are they the greatest of all time? Who cares? It's a futile, apples and oranges argument with no definitive answer.
Among the greats, City are in fine company, just as they've been for us.
And their unswerving commitment to a higher sporting spectacle must be recognised and recorded for posterity.
Some records that Man City could set in their last five games
BIGGEST TITLE-WINNING MARGIN:
City are 16 points ahead of Manchester United . In 2000, United won the title by 18 points.
Jose Mourinho's Chelsea picked up 95 in 2005. City are on 87 after 33 games. Fifteen points are still up for grabs.
Carlo Ancelotti's Chelsea knocked in 103 goals (2.7 goals per game). City are on 93 after 33 matches (2.8 per match).
This record was only set last year. Antonio Conte's Chelsea earned 30 victories. City have 28. Three more victories from five games would do it.
MOST AWAY WINS:
Mourinho's Chelsea picked up 15 victories on the road in 2004-5. City have won 14, so they'll need to win at both West Ham and Southampton to beat the Blues.
BEST GOAL DIFFERENCE:
Chelsea ended the 2010 campaign with a goal difference of +71. City are on +68.
If nothing else, breaking as many records as possible in the coming weeks will serve as a permanent reminder of what we've been fortunate enough to witness.
City are champions without compromise, which is not an uncommon trait among winners. Antonio Conte's obdurate back three, Jose Mourinho's bus parkers and even Claudio Ranieri's old-age defenders all shared those uncompromising, gritty qualities.
But such attributes can sound like empty cliches, particularly in English football, which often measures its self-proclaimed greatness in physical terms. EPL winners must be the hardest, bravest and bloodiest, with hearts on sleeves at all times.
But City are different. Their refusal to compromise was not about physique, but finesse. They were artists who refused to put down their paintbrushes.
Last summer, Guardiola insisted that he could win the title with the most intoxicating football imaginable.
Through the autumnal rain, the Christmas sleet and the February freeze, Guardiola's dandies persevered with fleet-footed exhibition stuff, the kind rarely witnessed in England over such a sustained period.
The Spaniard's latest title triumph must rank as one of his finest, but not for those facile reasons about the EPL being the toughest league.
It's for Guardiola's devotion to an idea.
His adherence to the game's highest aesthetic principles, believing that fast, positive and downright electrifying football was the only way to win, has been tested like never before in England.
In late 2016, Guardiola suffered his winter of discontent. City lost four in eight games as their campaign unravelled.
Their manager's grandiose claims sounded hollow. His criticisms of English football's rudimentary obsession with tough tackling and second balls smacked of bitchiness.
TOTAL POSSESSION PLAN
Seasoned EPL pundits were not amused. Who did this pretentious foreigner think he was?
If ever there was a moment for Guardiola to pull back his wingers, stick another enforcer in midfield and park the odd bus, that was it.
But he didn't. He dug in instead. He bought a goalkeeper (Ederson), a centre-back (Aymeric Laporte) and a fullback (Kyle Walker), players he believed would execute his total possession plan.
Tactics are always cyclical, but Guardiola ushered in a new era while simultaneously winning the title with an outrageous brand of attacking football.
But none of this will be reflected in the history books.
City will be just another number, which is most ironic considering they've never opted for paint-by-numbers drudgery. Their play has been broad, vibrant and hypnotic from beginning to near-end.
So it'll have to be about the other numbers instead. A pile of shattered records can be a statistical eulogy to Guardiola's brilliance.
Eighteen consecutive league victories and 20 straight wins in all competitions are already in the bag. When City went 28 games unbeaten in all competitions, they also broke a club record.
But the swashbucklers are just getting started. With no other trophy distractions, there's a possibility of racking up the kind of numbers that'll never be surpassed.
The first club to reach 100 points, scoring the most league goals, achieving the most wins, the most away wins, the best goal difference and even the biggest title-winning margin; they are all up for grabs now.
At face value, they are just stats, but City's domestic dominance deserves underlining in the annals.
Every new accomplishment serves as validation for a purist who refused to accept the jaded negativity of those working within the same industry.
Guardiola should break every record because he's never been a broken one.