Treble tough, but City will win league again, says Malaysian supporters’ club patron

Muhtar Suhaili (main image) is not shy to admit that he only started supporting Manchester City after the Abu Dhabi United Group takeover in 2008.

But, far from being a glory hunter, Muhtar bought into the project from the start and endured the barren years before Roberto Mancini laid the foundation for the Pep Guardiola dynasty.

Mancini guided City to its first league title since 1968, with a final-day victory over Queens Park Rangers in 2012, and since then, the Manchester club has won a further six crowns.

“I have always enjoyed watching football and supported another club before the Abu Dhabi takeover piqued my interest,” said Muhtar, who replaced former education minister Datuk Maszlee Malik as patron of the Manchester City Supporters Club Malaysia (MCSCM) in 2021.

“I could see Abu Dhabi was genuinely interested in reawakening the sleeping giant that was City.

“It took them a few years to get the system right, and once Mancini won the first league title, I knew it would be the start of something special.”

Manuel Pellegrini won another league title in 2014 before Guardiola came into the picture in 2016.

The Spaniard has transformed the team, and under him, City won five league titles (2018, 2019, 2021, 2022 and 2023), four League Cups (2018, 2019, 2020, 2021), two FA Cups (2019, 2023) and one Champions League (2023).

Last week, it won the UEFA European Super Cup for the first time and will play in its first Club World Cup in December.

“Last season was magical. We won the treble – EPL, FA Cup, and Champions League to match the feat of Manchester United, which did the same in 1999,” said Muhtar, EPIC Berhad’s group chief operating officer.

“We won another trophy last week and have a good chance of winning the Club World Cup.

“However, I feel we will win only two of the four major trophies on offer for this season. One would be the EPL crown. The other might be the Champions League again, but will not mind if we add either the League, or FA Cup.”

He added that Erling Haaland will be deadlier than last season when he plundered 52 goals from 53 games.

“Haaland will only get better. Although he scored 52 goals, I think we have not seen the best of him in the EPL,” said Muhtar, who has twice visited the Etihad Stadium.

He said Arsenal and Newcastle would be City’s biggest rivals but dismissed Manchester United and Liverpool’s chances, adding that the Merseyside club would either finish in the top four or bottom three.

“I am confident City can retain the league, but I do not rate United or Liverpool this term,” said the father of five.

“Liverpool can fight for fourth place – if they are not fighting relegation!

“As for the bottom teams, I feel Luton and Aston Villa will drop to the Championship.”

Asked about MCSCM, Muhtar said the number of members has grown over the years. They usually meet in Cyberjaya for viewing parties when City plays its biggest rivals.

“We also gather for the various cup finals,” said the 42-year-old Miri native.

“Unfortunately, since I am in Kemaman, I can only attend a few gatherings.”

Those interested in joining MCSCM can contact the club on its Facebook page.

FIXTURES (Malaysian time)
Chelsea vs Luton (3am)
Bournemouth vs Tottenham (7.30pm)
Arsenal vs Fulham (10pm)
Brentford vs Crystal Palace (10pm)
Everton vs Wolves (10pm)
Manchester United vs Nottingham Forest (10pm)

Brighton vs West Ham (12.30am)
Burnley vs Aston Villa (9pm)
Sheffield United vs Manchester City (9pm)
Newcastle vs Liverpool (11.30pm)

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