Do you have to buy the title?

by admin

Tuesday, July 7th, 2009

Throughout Europe the most successful teams are the ones that spent the most wedge. Chelsea will be remembered – possibly unkindly- as the purchaser of two league titles, and Man Utd only got back on top after splashing some significant readies on the likes of Wayne Rooney, Michael Carrick and Anderson / Nani.

Inter Milan in Italy have spent big on guys like Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Christian Chivu, Sulley Muntari etc and sit on top of the pile, while Juventus and AC Milan both shelled out on risky ventures like Amauri, Momo Sissoko and Ronaldinho.

Barcelona spent the thick end of £25 million on a right back, as well as sundry change on Seydou Keita, Alex Hleb etc to wrest the title back from Real Madrid.

Speaking of the Madridista, prior to the Ronaldo Kaka Lady Gaga Saga, they had over £70million of Dutchmen in the squad, all purchased in 2007 or later.

French teams have usually been immune to the overspending, but Lyon spent big to win the title again in 2007/08 on players like Kader Keita and Mathieu Bodmer (who? I hear you ask).

Bordeaux were a breath of fresh air, winning the title without really spending much to do so. Laurent Blanc put together the gifted talents if Yoanns Gourcuff and Gouffran, found a poacher in Fernando Cavenaghi, and combined a series of journeymen across the back line expertly.

The most pleasing aspect for me was that none of these players were really household names, yet they came together as a unit and won.

A similar story unfolded in Germany as Wolfsburg came out of nowhere to claim the Bundesliga crown. Who had heard of Edin Dzeko this time a year ago, except sad football geeks like myself? Now AC Milan want him, and they want him bad. Together with unknown Brazilians and Eastern European hard men, he dragged the Bundesliga equivalent of Fulham to the top of the pile.

So I started thinking, could the Premiership be won by a team that didn’t spend big, and just played the best football? Could the concept of the team outmanoeuvre the concept of the multi-million pound playboy superstars? Could Everton beat Liverpool? Bolton overcome Man Utd?

For a while the conventional wisdom was that Arsenal might just win it, playing the beautiful way. They ran out of money soon after the new stadium was built. Their tactic was to buy young, and nurture the talent. However, that all fell apart as a lack of experience and quality disappointingly hampered their progress. The departure of Mathieu Flamini also suggested that players would flutter their eyelids at big spenders (and big wage payers) as soon as they were established.

Sam Allardyce and Harry Redknapp made reputations on wheeler-dealing, but neither got close to any silverware until substantial funds were made available (Redknapp spent a lot while at Portsmouth in the end).
Steve Bruce worked miracles at Wigan, but his modus operandi was to buy short and sell long, as with Wilson Palacios and now Luis Antonio Valencia. And Wigan were never going to break up the big boys.

Man City will be title contenders in no time at all, as eventually they will be able to buy the players that they need. Maybe not this season, but certainly in the next few. Man Utd have £80mill burning a hole in their skyrocket, and a new Chelsea manager can only mean new super signings before the start of the season. How can the rest compete?

Can Everton deal them a blow? They never have any money but have a formidable team spirit, discipline and will to win. Could Aston Villa push on from last season? Granted they have spent cash, but not on a very major scale (and mostly on James Milner, so it doesn’t really count). Will Middlesbrough’s youth policy pay dividends in a few years?

I just want someone in England to do a Wolfsburg, do a Bordeaux, and give all the other teams out there some hope. Who could do it? Could anyone?

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  • Darren

    Chelsea have spent close to 500 million, and all they have to show for it is 2 league titles, I’m sure Abramovic doesn’t really count the Mickey and the FA Cups, they were cup winners before came he along. It’s Champions League he is trying to buy.

    You can throw millions at the team but it doesn’t instantly guarantee success, it takes time to gel. Chelsea were a decent side challenging for the top 4 before Roman came along. People forget Terry, Cole & Lamps were already at the club. Manchester City haven’t got a spine yet, so they will have to start from scratch which will take longer.

    I might have a wager on Sparky being the first manager to lose his job too…

    The Arsenal invincibles won the title on merit, team spirit and good CHEAP purchases, so it can be done.

  • Matt Quinn

    I dont reckon any team in England will do it anytime soon. Villa threatened to break into the top 4 this year (after sneakily spending £50m on average English players) but then come January, Arsenal bought Arshavin, while Villa bought Heskey for a packet of sausages. Theres the difference.

    The only hope is that a mid-table team gets a flock of youngsters akin to Beckham, Scholes, Butt, Neville etc…. i quite fancy West Ham to push forward this year on this basis but certainly not to be challenging for the title.

  • Spazwit

    I propose taking all UK footballers into the employ of the FA. This way, the transfer process can be made comoletely transparent and be rigourously controlled, salaries can be set and controlled and discipline both on and off the pitch can be standardised and enforced. COme on people. Let’s clean football up.

  • Darren

    While we are it we can heal the world, make it a better place, for me and for you and the entire human race

  • Daveyboy

    Ha Ha!!!!

    I dont think you can win titles/cups with a team of superstars, u need the type of players that will run around chasing everything like a dog on heat.

  • Iain

    I quite like spazwits idea. It would stop the situation where the big boys buy all the good players at smaller clubs (This happened in Scotland for years, and look at the ‘competition’ there).

    Is it Basketball in USA where the best players in each draft are offered to the teams that finished last the previous year? I know that the MLS had a similar system too, so great players were playing at mediocre clubs, to make it more even.

    Unlikely to get off the ground here, but there must be ways to redress the balance and help make smaller teams with good players competitive?

    I’d just love to see a small team win something, even the FA Cup maybe?

  • Darren

    Portsmouth won the FA Cup remember and even smaller clubs like Spurs got to the Mickey Cup final

  • I Longboard

    Hey, I agree. Unfortunately giving a red or even yellow for theatrics will be very hard to enforce. There are some flagrant cases obvious to the viewer at home but it is hard for the referee to tell if a tumble is genuine or not without the benefit of instant replay. Imagine the double injury of taking a genuine tumble and then being awarded a red card for your pain. I think this is why most referees are loathe to apply even the currently prescribed yellow card, except they directly witness a violation, something which isn’t always possible with all the activity on the field.

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