Pep Guardiola has dismissed the idea of Manchester City winning four trophies this season, but history has shown that such hauls are possible. Here are five other sides that swept the board in a single campaign.
Barcelona, 2008-09: Three trophies
Compared to others on this list, Barcelona’s mere treble seems relatively puny. Many others have won their big three trophies in a single season, but this is worth mentioning here because it represented the first half of their brilliant 2009 calendar year, when they raked in six trophies — or, if you like, every major tournament they entered.
In Guardiola’s first season as a senior manager, they beat Real Madrid to the title by nine points, hammered Athletic Bilbao 4-1 in the final of the Copa del Rey and comfortably defeated Manchester United in the Champions League final. The following season, they claimed the Spanish Super Cup, the European Super Cup and the World Club Cup, completing the famous (if slightly arbitrary) “sextuple.” Would a quadruple with Manchester City better this achievement for Guardiola?
Santos, 1962: Four trophies
On the international stage, Pele’s 1962 was bittersweet: He got a World Cup medal but was injured for portions of the tournament and missed the final. Domestically, though, things were rather more emphatic. Along with his Brazil colleagues Zito and Gilmar as well as strike partner Coutinho, with whom he had a virtually telepathic understanding, Santos won the Campeonato Paulista, qualifying for the national championship Taca Brasil, which they also won.
Beyond Brazil, they won the Copa Libertadores, beating Penarol of Uruguay in the final, and the Intercontinental Cup (the previous name for the World Club Cup) by defeating Eusebio’s Benfica. To really add a flamboyant flourish to the whole thing, they did virtually the same thing again in 1963. “To see Santos is an indescribable experience, and one comes away convinced that they have no equals,” was the verdict of World Soccer magazine.
Celtic, 1966-67: Five trophies
The “Lisbon Lions” will always be remembered as the first British team (and the only Scottish team) to win the European Cup, but by the time they beat Inter in the final, they already had four trophies under their collective belt. The Glasgow Cup (admittedly a regional cup in which only four teams played) and the League Cup were secured by the second week in November, the Scottish Cup won by beating Aberdeen 2-0 in the final while the league was confirmed in perfect style, with a 2-2 draw against Rangers at Ibrox.
Jock Stein’s side played 62 competitive games that season, losing only three: twice to Dundee United in the league and then in the first leg of the European Cup quarterfinal against FK Vojvodina of Serbia. As a pleasant garnish to an already delicious victorious meal, shortly after the European Cup final, they were the opponents for Alfredo di Stefano’s testimonial against Real Madrid: a Bobby Lennox goal won the game 1-0.
“Winning was important, but it was the way that we won that has filled me with satisfaction,” Stein said. “We did it by playing football. Pure, beautiful, inventive football.”
Arsenal Ladies, 2006-07: Six trophies
There is an element of playing with the figures here, as two of the trophies in this season were the Community Shield, a pseudo-friendly, and the London FA Cup, as the name suggests a regional competition. But if nothing else, it’s worth mentioning this season because of the manner in which Arsenal completed it: They won the league, the FA Cup and the Premier League Cup without losing or drawing a single game, an utterly extraordinary 100 percent domestic record.
They then capped off the season by winning the UEFA Women’s Cup (which is what the Champions League was called back then) without losing a game. Indeed, the only match they didn’t win was the second leg of the final, against Umea of Sweden, with the 0-0 draw enough to claim the trophy after Kelly Smith’s late goal secured the first leg.
Linfield, 1961-62: Seven trophies
There’s something about human nature that means when someone says they got 99 out of 100 on a quiz, the first question many will ask is, “What did you get wrong?” Perhaps the Linfield team of 1961-62 feel the same way: They won seven trophies but failed to get a clean sweep of eight, losing out in the Intermediate Cup to Glentoran.
Still, a haul of the league title, the Irish Cup, the County Antrim Shield, the Gold Cup, the City Cup, the Ulster Cup and the North-South Cup (a cross-border competition with teams from the Republic of Ireland) isn’t too shabby at all. They did win seven out of seven in 1922 (a slightly different collection of competitions), but somehow, a slightly imperfect group of trophies seems more fitting.
Nick Miller is a writer for ESPN FC, covering Premier League and European football. Follow him on Twitter @NickMiller79.