By Tony Attwood
Last year I passed a few hours examining how various teams’ league positions compared with their position in terms of how much money they spent in the summer on players. I’ve waited until nine games have gone this season, but now I think it might be time to see how well related spending on transfers is to league position.
As you will know, I am sure, the key “argument” (really it is just a statement) of the aaa is one that says that spending money in the transfer market is the only way to progress a team. Untold’s view, based on a variety of sources of evidence we’ve examined over the years, is that good transfer business can indeed help, but there is more to the business of making a successful team than that.
So far we’ve looked at the number of first team players each club has managed to gather together – and considered why so many clubs have failed to put 25 players in the official list of 25, the maximum allowed under Premier League rules. Most clubs failed to find 25 such players, largely because they didn’t have enough “home grown” players in their squad.
Now I want to look at the amount spent last summer and see how it compares with league position with just about a quarter of the league season gone. In the next article in the series, I want to take up a point raised in discussion recently – just how well have other teams’ transfers from the summer been settling in.
The table below is set out in the normal manner to show league position in the league. The final three columns then show
- The club’s position in the league
- The club’s position in the table of amount of money spent
- The difference between the league position and the position in the league table.
Following up on that last point, a club that spent the most in the summer and is thus top of the “£ pos” table (Manchester City) should be top of the league table if there is a direct relationship between league position and amount spent on transfers – as the bloggettas, the mass media and their fellow travellers like to suggest. And they are, so their relative position (that is their position in the money spent league and their position in the actual league) is identical. The difference is zero.
Clubs that have a league table position higher than their position in the transfer money league table get a positive relative position. So Arsenal were fourth in the league table of clubs spending the most last summer, but are currently second in the actual league table, so have a position of +2. They are two places higher than we would expect if money bought positions.
The team that has come off best is Stoke – they are four places higher in the league than we might expect from their summer spending programme. Five teams are just behind with +3. The team that came off worst is Sunderland with -6. Manchester United and Leicester City have also spent badly (or so it seems so far) and are five places lower than they should be if money equalled points in the league table. They both have -5.
Clubs at the top end of the improvement list are in brown. Clubs at the bottom end of the under achievement list are in blue.
|Team||P||W||D||L||F||A||GD||Pts||Spend||Lge pos||£ pos||Relative|
Looked at from a different point of view, this is how the table should look if there was a direct relationship between summer spending and league position. The league according to Spend Position.
|Spend position||Club||Spend||League position|
Clearly this year so far there is some link between the amount spent and the position in the league. The link is best shown by the fact that eight of the top ten spenders are in the top ten league positions. But as always the link is not perfect and as Leicester, Sunderland and Man U have found, spending isn’t everything.
Leicester’s position might be considerably worse than the table itself suggests, in that they also spent a considerable amount of money in the summer on increasing the wages and contract lengths of their existing players, while at the same time the questions relating to the source and sustainability of their “marketing incomes” remain unclear.
Sunderland look to have fallen into the trap that Newcastle dropped into last year or having a poor team and trying to buy their way up the league with multiple spends. That is tempting but really doesn’t work in terms of patching together a group of new players into a failing team.
Manchester United’s expenditure, after almost a quarter of the league programme gone looks like an utterly bonkers buying programme from an utterly bonkers manager totally consumed by his personal propaganda. I wouldn’t be surprised if he blames the club doctor next, and so for the first review of how a team other than Arsenal did in the summer transfer window, I’ve selected Man U. That piece will follow shortly.
Perhaps the main lesson so far is that spending can help a club, but it is not guaranteed – which of course was exactly the conclusion that we came to last year in following the same analysis. Spending some money isn’t all there is to it.
Finally we might note that eight PL clubs have new managers this season.
|Name||Club||Appointed||Time as manager||Lge pos|
|José Mourinho||Manchester United||27 May 2016||149 days||7|
|Ronald Koeman||Everton||14 June 2016||131 days||6|
|Claude Puel||Southampton||30 June 2016||115 days||8|
|Pep Guardiola||Manchester City||1 July 2016||114 days||1|
|Walter Mazzarri||Watford||1 July 2016||114 days||9|
|Antonio Conte||Chelsea||3 July 2016||112 days||4|
|Mike Phelan||Hull City||22 July 2016||93 days||18|
|David Moyes||Sunderland||23 July 2016||92 days||20|
The link between changing the manager and club progress thus seems even less automatic than that between spending money and league position.
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