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The Four Best Things About ‘All or Nothing: Manchester City’

Amazon’s new series about City’s record-breaking 2017-18 season is totally biased—and incredibly entertaining

Getty Images/Ringer illustration

Want to know how much Fabian Delph’s shin guards cost? Ever wonder what Pep Guardiola said to his team after they blew the chance to clinch the Premier League title at home against Manchester United? Has the question “Who’s better at pool: Bernardo Silva or Aymeric Laporte?” been eating away at you? All or Nothing: Manchester City offers all of those answers and plenty more. The eight-episode documentary series, released by Amazon on August 17, followed Manchester City as they ran through the Premier League last season, en route to the most successful domestic record in English history. Narrated by Ben Kingsley, the series explores the peaks of City’s success (winning 18 consecutive league games), their victories and failures in the transfer market (looking at you, Laporte and Alexis Sánchez), and their lowest moments (losing to Liverpool in the Champions League). There’s not much self-examination or internal criticism to be found here, as it’s most definitely a celebration of City’s season. But there are still plenty of telling and entertaining moments throughout the almost seven hours of footage. Here are our favorite parts:

Honorable mentions

  • I’m not sure Oleksandr Zinchenko has ever clapped before. Look at this clip of him attempting to celebrate City’s medical staff for being named the top group in the Premier League. His fingers are spread wide, and his palms are just sort of falling at each other off rhythm. Very concerning display from the young midfielder. No word yet on whether or not he’s improved this season.
  • Sergio Agüero’s son asked him to bring home Leicester striker Jamie Vardy’s jersey—of all people. Kids ask for the darndest things.
  • Pep Guardiola keeps a statuette of his mentor, the late Johan Cruyff, on his desk.
  • Brandon Ashton, City’s kit assistant, is a treasure. The bald, red-bearded staffer appeared in the opening episode when team captain Vincent Kompany bullied him into joining him in a cryotherapy chamber. Kompany took his time in the ice box well. Ashton, on the other hand, spent his minute or so in frigid temps screaming and pounding on the glass, begging to be let out. He can also be found roughhousing with Kevin De Bruyne, managing the boot room, and yelling “Merry Christmas!” when FC Basel was drawn as City’s Champions League round of 16 opponent.

Now, onto the big takeaways:

Pep Guardiola is a god and I kneel at his feet.

It only took one minute of watching All or Nothing for me to decide I was ready to dedicate my life to Pep Guardiola. The series opens with the Spaniard in the center of the locker room, dictating instructions to his squad in a way that was somehow both demanding and comforting.

Amazon

Guardiola is, unsurprisingly, the star of the series. When members of the press came for center back John Stones after a mistake, Guardiola stood up for him, declaring that Stones had more personality than everyone in the room combined. When City drew Crystal Palace in December to end their win streak, Guardiola told his team, “Of course I’m going to defend you until the last day in our life in the press conference. But here I’m going to tell you the truth: Come back to the earth. … If you hate me, hate me guys. Some of you play better when you’re angry with me. Do it.”

At halftime against Leicester, Guardiola diagrammed a potential opening at goal for De Bruyne, stressing that based on what he’d seen, there was a chance the midfielder could find space for a shot. When the second period began, De Bruyne followed his skipper’s instructions and doubled City’s lead.

But the best Guardiola moment in the series comes in the waning moments of the season. The manager gathers his players after taking the title and asks them:

Can you imagine a ball boy? In his own country. A small country. A ball boy. Going to the academy when he’s 13 years old. And after playing in the first team, his own team, in his heart, he stayed there a lot of years, and after became a manager, 37 years old. And in four years he destroyed football. It’s me. It’s me. I had the privilege to live that. I destroyed football like you destroyed the Premier League. Like you destroyed the Premier League this season. … This belongs to you.

In many ways, the series is nothing more than a propaganda film for the cult of Pep. He fits the role of the Great Cinematic Sports Coach: charismatic and nurturing but stern, like a father. All or Nothing leans into what it has, portraying Guardiola as the ultimate manager; after all, can anyone argue with his success? Themes emerge across the series: He’s tactically superior to his foes. His players love him. He’s more special than the Special One. There’s way more to Guardiola than what this series shows, of course, but it certainly works as entertainment. After eight episodes, I was ready to run through walls for the guy.

Phil Foden needs a stylist.

Meet Phil Foden. At just 18, he’s already won a Premier League title, the U17 FIFA World Cup, the Golden Ball in that tournament, and he’s also been named BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year. From a distance, you could say he has everything going for him. You would be wrong. Friends, we need to talk about Phil Foden’s style.

Amazon

There’s a lot going on here. The matching groutfit. The shaved Charlie Puth eyebrows. The disaster of a hairdo, which Ringer intern Julianna Ress described as looking like he asked for a specific cut but then put zero effort into maintaining it. Even when he dresses up, it doesn’t look great.

Amazon

Get a suit that fits, my dude. And hire a stylist. You’re too wealthy and will soon be too famous to dress like an Eastbay model who gets his news from vloggers’ Instagram stories.

Nobody watched the Manchester United loss that sealed the title.

After failing to clinch the league title with a loss in the second Manchester Derby, City needed only a United loss against West Brom to ensure victory. Considering West Brom sat at the bottom of the table and the game was at Old Trafford, it made sense that the players all had something better to do than watch an expected United win.

Vincent Kompany watched the game with his United-loving in-laws and eventually celebrated with teammates, but he seems to be one of the few who tuned in. Pep spent his time practicing his stroke on a golf simulator, Danilo was watching a movie with his son, De Bruyne was playing mini-golf, Nicolás Otamendi was drinking mate tea, and club chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak was on a flight and didn’t realize the match was happening until Sheikh Mansour, the team’s owner, called to congratulate him.

Amazon

Manchester City are an unstoppable killing machine.

Dread is an inescapable feeling that comes when watching All or Nothing. Not because of the film itself or because of any of the characters—they’re all wonderful. But because at some point, you realize that Manchester City ran through the most difficult domestic league on planet Earth with a squad decimated by injury. First it was Vincent Kompany, who entered the season with a knock. Then it was Benjamin Mendy, the ideal fullback for the Guardiola system. Then over the next few months, Stones, De Bruyne, Ederson, Gabriel Jesus, Agüero, and David Silva picked up injuries. And still, City dominated England. By December, they’d won 18 consecutive league matches. They won the league with five weeks remaining, and at season’s end, they’d shattered 11 records, including those for points, goals, margin of victory, and wins.

It’s fair to assume a sense of complacency sets in when a team wins a championship with more than a month remaining. And so after clinching the league, Guardiola assembled his squad in a film room and projected their current statistics compared with various full-season league records.

Amazon

Come the end of the campaign, City beat or matched all of them.

And while the team has lost De Bruyne to injury for a few months and already dropped two points thanks to a sly, uncalled handball against Wolverhampton, the series leaves you with the sense that this is just the beginning. It’s a young roster, and the high-profile losses to United and Liverpool last season somehow made a record-breaking season feel like a scratch on the surface of their potential. Mendy is back for a full season and Riyad Mahrez came over from Leicester in a club-record deal. Short of losing half their roster to an asteroid landing or Pep Guardiola taking another job to challenge himself, one thing is clear: City are here to stay.