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Haaland loaned everywhere and Guardiola in League Two: 10 possible Man City punishments

Haaland loaned everywhere and Guardiola in League Two: 10 possible Man City punishments

Everyone is talking about Manchester City and a possible expulsion from the Premier League. Sounds like horseguff to us, and nothing much is actually happening but it’s the talk of the town so let’s lean into it. Expulsion is certainly a hefty punishment, but it’s a bit by-the-book. It lacks spice. Here are 10 far more suitable punishments if/when any of those 115 charges ever actually manage to stick.

10) Everyone gets to loan Erling Haaland for a game
The charges might pertain to the period between 2009 and 2018 but Manchester City’s financial impropriety extended well into 2022 with the £213m signing of Erling Haaland.

It really is only fair that each Premier League team gets to borrow him for a game now. The Norwegian has to spend the remainder of the season testing the limits of Chelsea’s striker curse, showing what Arsenal would look like with A Proper Striker, winding everyone up alongside teammate Neal Maupay and scoring last-minute equalisers for Luton.

9) Manchester City must revert to their most recent pre-charge squad
Another requirement is for the band to be reassembled. The Manchester City which operated under Thaksin Shinawatra’s squeaky clean ownership is the default setting here and the current squad must be replaced by the crop of 2008/09.

It means the formidable punditry and podcasting careers of Micah Richards, Daniel Sturridge and Nedum Onuoha are put on hold, Stephen Ireland is welcomed back with open arms, Darius Vassell returns to a reception akin to his Ankaragucu days and Felipe Caicedo reclaims his status as the Premier League’s pre-eminent Caicedo. Shaun Wright-Phillips and Elano could absolutely still do a job. Vladimir Weiss and Sturridge are still only 34. That side finishes mid-table at worst, it’s not so bad.

8) Manchester City must face previous title rivals in one-off Winner Takes All games
When all this brouhaha kicked off, Sky Sports News helpfully laid out the powers possessed by the independent commission to which the Premier League has referred the alleged City breaches. The short version is ‘an arseload of powers’.

The longer version was that City could: be suspended from playing league matches; have points deducted; be expelled; be ordered to pay compensation; have player registrations cancelled. Then there was the magnificently vague addendum that the commission can ‘make such other order as it thinks fit’. Meaning the rest of the list was all rather meaningless: they can do whatever they want! Oof!

But the most eye-catching sanction went unexplained: ‘recommend to the board that league matches be replayed’. What, whole seasons? No, that would be too silly. And we don’t want to do anything silly here.

The only sensible interpretation of that is this: Manchester City have to play one-off matches against the teams they beat to the Premier League trophy to decide the ultimate winner of that specific season’s title race. Phil Jones gets to fight for 2011/12 justice again. Aly Cissokho, Iago Aspas and Joe Allen all return to Liverpool for one last chance at slipping the 2013/14 medal into Steven Gerrard’s pocket. And…

7) Jose Mourinho gets an uninterrupted hour-long press conference to celebrate his finest achievement
The shiniest penny for the thoughts of Jose Mourinho, who already deemed finishing a distant second with Manchester United, all of 19 points behind The Centurions in 2018, as one of his finest career achievements.

Gary Cotterill – or heaven help us Piers Morgan – is almost certainly already setting wheels in motion to capture the soundbite of Mourinho demanding respect while holding up four fingers to represent each of his hard-fought Premier League titles and insisting Luke Shaw be stripped of his medal before he is even awarded it.

6) Initiate the Robinho Protocols
We all remember it, don’t we? A newly-minted Man City, giddy at the takeover news and with piles of filthy lucre burning holes in their pockets, went scrambling around on deadline day desperate to make A Statement Signing. And they didn’t much care who it was.

A confused, bewildered Robinho was the man to walk through the doors that day in early September 2008, fitting the bill quite perfectly for City. A Brazilian superstar! Signed from Real Madrid of all places! This is the good stuff.

It gave an early, and sadly misleading, glimpse of what moneybags City might be like. Buying any old player for any old amount of money as long as the profile was high enough. Irritatingly, City soon struck on the formula of instead buying really good, entirely suitable players for high but not obscene prices, and only very recently – now it’s too late and they’re already properly good – shown any inkling of going back to those early days of wild spending on unsuitable players.

One of the best stories about the Robinho transfer is that he didn’t realise at the time there were two clubs in Manchester and thought he was signing for United. It’s almost certainly apocryphal of course, but we shan’t let that stop us.

The rules with this punishment are clear. City can sign absolutely anyone they want, but only if that player has genuinely never heard of them and believes he is joining United. What’s good here is that City’s decade and a half of success hoists them upon their own petard here. It’s perfect.

5) Pep Guardiola is forced to stay through the relegations
‘Whatever league we are in, I will still be here. Even if they put us in League Two, I will still be here. This is a time for sticking together,’ Pep Guardiola is alleged to have told his Manchester City players when UEFA tried to get their own FFP charges to stick in February 2020.

When a proposed Champions League ban was overturned that July he publicly outlined his commitment to the potentially sullied cause, stating: ‘My personal situation was clear. I said a month ago I would stay and it didn’t matter if we were in the Champions League, or like a lot of people here in England suggested League Two. I would have stayed here.’

It is time to see whether Guardiola is a man of his word. The Spaniard must lock horns with Steve Evans on the touchline, devise a plan to thwart fourth-tier stalwart Jamille Matt, brave the food at Priestfield Stadium and cheer as the ball goes through that hole in the Bishop Street Stand at Mansfield. It’s the only way to make this right.

4) Guardiola is banned from falling out with any of his players for a whole season
And his starting line-up has to be formed of players he has clashed with previously before banishing and then selling. Joe Hart; Danilo, Jason Denayer, Joao Cancelo; Jadon Sancho, Yaya Toure, Samir Nasri, Raheem Sterling; Wilfried Bony has the makings of a solid side before chucking in the disappointingly rehabilitated Bernardo Silva.

3) Guardiola can only play a basic 4-4-2 with every player in their natural position in Champions League knockout games
Overthink that, you big daft sod. It’s probably more of a blessing than a punishment but still.

2) All the Carabao must be returned
We’ve gone further than this already and redistributed every single ill-gotten pot City have accrued since 2008
, but we find ourselves most viscerally determined to restore the good name of the Carabao. Plus the teams denied are more interesting than your Manchester Uniteds, your Liverpools and the Real Madrids of this world who mainly benefit from the rest of it.

While the wider focus remains on the fate of the Premier League titles Manchester City won in the period under investigation, of far more pressing concern are the Carabaos they gulped over those nine years. Sunderland, Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea, Aston Villa and Tottenham were beaten at Wembley in first Manuel Pellegrini and then Guardiola’s relentless pursuit of the fabled energy drink but the only viable solution is to confiscate them.

No-one wants their Mango Burst or Orange Blast to be tainted and this whole sorry affair has brought the proud, distinguished name of Carabao into unforgivable disrepute.

1) Some legal name changes
Bald Fraudiola confirmed as the manager of Manchequebook City at the Emptihad. It has to be. Lean into it. Own it.

Every time a journalist asks about the charges at a press conference just give them the old “I’m so happy, more than you believe,” followed by a stare deep into their soul. Appoint Manuel Akanji as the club’s official accountant and make Scott Carson CEO. Keep making more revenue than all other clubs. Double down. Accept the £10m fine and crack on, you cowards.

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