Erling Haaland at Chelsea, a title for Liverpool & Jose Mourinho wins another Premier League - What football might've looked liked without Manchester City's alleged financial breaches

Henderson Haaland Mourinho
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Manchester City are alleged to have broken a shedload of Premier League financial rules - but what would football have looked like if they hadn't?

Just in case you have been living under a rock over the last week, the Premier League have charged Manchester City with an astonishing 101 breaches of their financial rules.

In short, should an independent commission find City guilty of the charges, the club will be viewed to have systematically cheated the system since their big-money takeover back in 2008.

As of right now, no punishment is off the table - whether that be a fine, transfer ban or even expulsion from the Premier League altogether. City could even have Premier League titles or domestic cups taken off them, as Juventus did following the Calciopoli scandal of the 2000s.

The concept of history essentially being re-written like this - if the breaches did in fact take place of course - got us thinking. Specifically, what would English football have looked like if City's apparent infractions hadn't taken place?

What if the Citizens were not able to blow their competition out of the water with league-high wages, record infrastructure investment and huge transfer fees? What if they weren't Premier League big dogs, merely a small fish in a giant pond?

Here are ten things that might have happened on that alternate timeline...

  1. Liverpool would have another title
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    Liverpool would have another title

    This one is fairly obvious.

    During the 2021-22 campaign Liverpool pushed Manchester City all the way, losing just twice all season and amassing a stunning 92 points - which was one fewer that City managed.

    Would City have got over the line without their embarrassment of riches? Almost certainly not.

  2. Haaland would be Chelsea's perfect number nine
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    Haaland would be Chelsea's perfect number nine

    Chelsea have long been cursed on the striker front, with a string of high-profile - and expensive - recruits failing to make the No.9 shirt their own.

    How different things could have been this season if they'd managed to blow Manchester City's bid for Erling Haaland out of the water in the summer of 2022.

  3. Jack Grealish would be tearing it up at Aston Villa
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    Jack Grealish would be tearing it up at Aston Villa

    Needless to say that Jack Grealish's £100m ($121m) move - a British record fee before Chelsea's coup of Enzo Fernandez this winter - would never have occurred without City's riches.

    Few other clubs could have matched the winger's exorbitant release clause, meaning Grealish would still be flying for his boyhood club. How Villa would take that right now.

  4. Someone else might have won the Carabao Cup for once
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    Someone else might have won the Carabao Cup for once

    Liverpool being crowned last season's winners was a welcome break from the norm. Before that, City had won five of the last six, taking their tally to six trophies since the takeover.

    Despite many fans rubbishing the League Cup in its early stages, most eventually recognise it as a vital opportunity for silverware. Without City's flagrant dominance, someone else might have actually had the chance to win it.

  5. Mourinho's fourth Premier League triumph?
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    Mourinho's fourth Premier League triumph?

    Jose Mourinho famously said that finishing the 2017-18 season in second with Manchester United was one of his greatest achievements.

    Many laughed at the time, but successive failures with multiple managers following the Portuguese's tenure have only served to prove him, at least partly, right.

    Just imagine if he'd have gone one better.

  6. A new contender for the Premier League's most iconic moment
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    A new contender for the Premier League's most iconic moment

    Love them or hate them, few can argue that Sergio Aguero's 94th minute strike against QPR to win City their first Premier League trophy in 2011-12 was a seminal moment for the league.

    Without Aguero, though, there would be no goal, no famous commentary and, ultimately, no iconic memory. Who would take the Argentine's place in the Premier League hall of fame? The options are endless.

  7. Leicester in the Champions League?
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    Leicester in the Champions League?

    Most Leicester fans will argue that their 2020-21 FA Cup triumph was a worthy sacrifice for finishing fifth, one point behind fellow finalists Chelsea. It was a repeat tale of the previous campaign, when the gap was instead four points.

    But without City, who finished both seasons in the top two, Foxes fans would have been treated to two more years of Champions League football. For now, they will have to settle for their maiden campaign following their 2015-16 league triumph.

  8. Guardiola at Old Trafford?
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    Guardiola at Old Trafford?

    Talk of City's possible punishments has of course prompted rumours about Pep Guardiola's successor when he inevitably walks - but what if he had never been appointed in the first place?

    Forget Jose, forget Ole, forget even Ralph Rangnick. Had the Catalan tactician made the short trip to the red side of Manchester, United fans may have been celebrating more than just a second-placed finish in 2017-18.

  9. A sixth WSL title for Chelsea
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    A sixth WSL title for Chelsea

    Just two years after being established in the Women's Super League, City went on to win their first ever title in 2016, pipping Chelsea by five points.

    Despite going on to finish runners-up to Chelsea (four times) or Arsenal (once) in every season since, City might not have been anywhere near that, and the Blues would have been crowned with their sixth WSL title.

  10. Man City still wouldn't have any Champions League titles
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    Man City still wouldn't have any Champions League titles

    There is one thing that would remain the same.

    Nearly 15 years and almost £1.5 billion spent, and City are still yet to get their hands on the coveted European trophy.

    Shock exits to Tottenham and Lyon in 2018-19 and 2019-20 were followed by defeat in the final to Thomas Tuchel's Chelsea less than six months after the German took over.

    Maybe City will taste greater success after Guardiola walks - who famously tried out Ilkay Gundogan in a maiden holding midfield role in the 2020-21 final - but we suspect probably not.