sport news Manchester City can be great after one season

There are 12 episodes of Fawlty Towers and 295 episodes of Last of the Summer Wine. Doesn't make it funnier, though, the longevity. Nobody quotes Foggy and Compo the way they do Basil and Sybil.

It is 42 years since a severely concussed Torquay hotelier told his staff not to mention the war and the phrase remains part of the nation's vocabulary.

Commercials are still made parodying scenes from a show almost half a century old without a syllable of explanation and everyone gets the joke.

Pep Guardiola has led his Manchester City team to the top of the table in the Premier League

Pep Guardiola has led his Manchester City team to the top of the table in the Premier League

Last of the Summer Wine did it longer and more often but it wasn't as good. Neither was M*A*S*H, neither was Friends. Only one measure counts in the world of art or culture: the work.

It does not matter that Vincent van Gogh couldn't sell a painting in his lifetime or that Jackson Pollock's creative peak lasts little more than three years. There is no rulebook governing greatness.

Robert Johnson's entire recorded output amounts to 29 songs, including alternate takes, most of which were recorded in three days in Room 414 of the Gunter Hotel in San Antonio. No matter. Nobody had ever played the guitar like it and, once Johnson was done, the instrument never sounded the same again.

City have shown how good they and have been able to maintain a high level of performance 

City have shown how good they and have been able to maintain a high level of performance 

It is possible to capture and achieve lasting greatness in a fleeting moment, just as it is possible for Manchester City to be a great team in only one season.

Gary Neville is wrong. Those who wish to define sport as boxes to be ticked — win title, retain title — have missed the point. Yes, a period of dominance is one signifier, but not the only one.

If Manchester City continue to play as they have this season, if they win the league by March as they are on course to do, if they break the 100-point barrier, if they usurp the points per game aggregate of even Preston's Invincibles from the Victorian age, are we to pretend this is not yet a great team, because of the potential for some random set of circumstances as yet unknown? That is ridiculous.

If The Beatles had made one record and it was The White Album they would still be a great band; if the Velvet Underground had made one record and it was The Velvet Underground and Nico, they would still have changed music. And if DJ Pierre had done nothing other than modulate the frequency and resonance controls in the bass patterns of a Roland TB-303, he would still have invented acid house.

And that's what City are doing; they're inventing acid house. There was dance music before, but it never sounded like that. And there have been great football teams before Pep Guardiola's City — but few of us, not even those who witnessed Liverpool's European Cup winners, 's treble winners or Arsenal's Invincibles, can remember too many quite like this.

Gary Neville is wrong, Manchester City can be great after just one outstanding season

Gary Neville is wrong, Manchester City can be great after just one outstanding season

They've won nothing yet, obviously. They dropped points on Sunday for the first time since August and may now be without important players at a crucial time in the season. They still have to see this through despite the obstacles, make it the game-changing procession we anticipate.

Nobody can be great 21 matches into a 38-game season. Yet the indicators are there. The totals and aggregates it was considered possible to hit are being altered. And then what? They have to do it all again or it's meaningless? Nonsense.

The greatest title win in the history of English football was Leicester City's in 2015-16. It was a triumph we had given up hope of seeing, a club from beyond the established elite winning a league in which money supposedly rules, and by 10 points. It was truly amazing. And just because they didn't retain it the following season does not make it less so.

Leicester's win is not inferior to United's three between 1999 and 2001 or 2007 and 2009. Given their circumstances, how were they to deprive the elite of their entitlement a second time?

Leicester lost their best player to a major rival; bigger, richer clubs invested hugely in the summer; they had to compete in the Champions League for the first time. Naturally, the superhuman effort of getting a small club over the line against all odds could not be maintained. Does that diminish what went before? No.

It is little surprise that much of the desire to place caveats around Manchester City's form this season comes from those with an affinity to .

It's all they have right now: the charge that City are yet to keep hold of the Premier League title for more than one year.

For the same reason, Liverpool followers wish greatness to be measured in European titles; it's all that keeps their club from being eclipsed by , having failed to win the biggest domestic prize in the modern era.

Yet these rivalries and jealousies should not distract from the bigger picture. Just as it is possible to be a great European team without retaining the Champions League — Guardiola's Barcelona never did so — it is possible a season like the one City are having could be acclaimed without the necessity of doing it all again.

A lot could happen by 2019 — injuries, fatigue, investment elsewhere. There is a reason no team have kept the Premier League title since in 2008-09. It is a tough, exhausting competition. United's last two title victories have been by the substantial margins of nine and 11 points and neither prize was retained.

So, we take greatness where we find it. If Manchester City rewrite the record books, does it make them a great team?

Of course it does. As Basil would say: it's the bleeding obvious.

Pardew may be on to a winner 

Southampton had last scored a home goal on April 5 when they met West Ham in August. They were 2-0 up within 38 minutes. Brighton had got one point away from home all season when they travelled to the London Stadium on October 20 — and won 3-0. Everton had not kept a clean sheet since the opening day, before beating West Ham 4-0 in November. And Newcastle's 3-2 win at West Ham ended a run of nine games without victory.

So those at West Brom fearing the worst because Alan Pardew is still without a win after seven games may feel a shred of optimism at Tuesday's visit to East London.

If

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