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What’s £400m between friends? How some clubs have upped the game.

By Tony Attwood

José Mourinho became manager of Manchester United in May 2016.  In five transfer windows he spent around £400m on 11 players.  The media men on the inside say that in each case the choice of player was his.

The Guardian is saying that not only are the results poor from the first team but that the management other than the manager (if you see what I mean) didn’t like the style of play and they were unhappy about the way younger players were being developed.

The general estimate is that Mourinho will get around £15m in compensation.  It is also being said that there will be a caretaker in for the rest of this season, and a new manager (already recruited) from next season.  Across the last two seasons Mourinho won one more match than Arsenal in the league.

In the two year period both clubs were beaten finalists in a competition: Man U in the FA Cup, Arsenal in the League cup.

Interestingly Arsenal completely out scored Man U across the two years:   Manchester Unitd knocked in 122 goals in the two complete seasons, but Arsenal scored 151 – maybe that made a difference.  In terms of trophies Man U, like Arsenal, won one trophy in the two seasons – they won the Europa, Arsenal won the FA Cup.

But it was the money spent that was the real problem.  £400m across the windows of Summer 2016, January and summer 2017 and January and summer 2018, including £63 million last summer.

That amount is not too different from Arsenal last summer, but the lack of previous heavy spending by Arsenal and the current league table shows the difference.  They are only one place behind Arsenal but eight points behind, and 11 points off the magical fourth place which is not a trophy.

Pos Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Liverpool 17 14 3 0 37 7 30 45
2 Manchester City 17 14 2 1 48 10 38 44
3 Tottenham Hotspur 17 13 0 4 31 16 15 39
4 Chelsea 17 11 4 2 35 14 21 37
5 Arsenal 17 10 4 3 37 23 14 34
6 Manchester United 17 7 5 5 29 29 0 26

But that goals situation stand out and affects the club as much as the money thrown at players.  A goal difference of zero – unusual for Manchester United.  Last season they finished with a GD of plus 40, their best since 2010.

Presumably their next manger will come in at the end of this season and start buying, spending another £100m.   More than any club Manchester United can do this within the rules because they make such a huge profit.   They have big stadium which they have occupied since 1910 (no need to build a new one either using their own money – as per Arsenal – or the state’s money as per WHU and Manchester City).  And they had the foresight to start a world wide marketing scheme back in the 1960s.

So the money is there and they can buy their way back to the top, but their problems at the moment show us that although buying one’s way to the top is possible – Liverpool and Manchester City have done that – it is not an absolute guarantee of success.  Even with a manager who has won a whole load of trophies before.

And there is one other problem besides the fact that buying players is not an absolute guarantee of success.  Nor is it a guarantee of continuity.  Here is a big spenders’ table for recent years showing their league position.

Club 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
Liverpool 2 6 8 4 4
Manchester City 1 2 4 3 1
Manchester Utd 7 4 5 6 2
Chelsea 3 1 10 1 5
Arsenal  4 3 2 5 6

Liverpool Man U, Man C, and Chelsea have money to burn, and they go on spending and spending, but even with the unimaginable resources of Manchester City, they can’t seem to buy supremacy every year.  The last club to retain the title was Manchester United in 2009.  Since they the expenditure has risen to previously unheard of levels.  But no one seems to have been able to retain the league title no matter what they spend.

In the Wenger era fourth was not a trophy, as I often like to repeat.  But for the clubs that spend, second isn’t a trophy either.

There is an issue here.  Although there are limits on salaries that can be paid by clubs, this measure does not seem to be reigning in expenditure on transfers and so we can probably expect, year on year, the four teams in black in the list above to keep on keeping on with the money being spashed out.

Arsenal’s expenditure last summer appeared to be a one-off to help the new manager along.  Whether we’ll be in that spending league next time around remains to be seen, but I suspect not.

Clearly a club can with the title without spending a fortune – as Leicester showed – but it is rare.  Without the money one needs a manager of great guile, combined with an excellent youth programme which not only produces young players but also gives them a chance.  Oh yes, and a shedload of luck.

12 comments to What’s £400m between friends? How some clubs have upped the game.

  • Steve Vallins

    I don’t think Maureen has ever brought a youth player through to the first team he usually sells them , there’s a long list .

  • Josif

    Just two notions:

    1) Mourinho won two trophies with Man United (Europa League and League Cup) plus Community Shield and

    2) United have conceded 29 goals in the league this season in just 17 games – last season they conceded 28 in 38.

    The second one is particularly interesting. Mourinho has been known as a defence master but the truth is, the stats show he had ridden his luck for too long. David De Gea had abnormal xG stats last season, he should have conceded around 40 goals or so in the league but conceded just 28. This season, De Gea is a human being again and United are where they should have been last season – way off Top 5.

  • Wow. So he is actually gone? What took them so long? The only regret for us is that they did not throw him out before we played them. It would possibly have been an absolute tonking for United.

    Well, good riddance. He is history now. We all are spared the misery of seeing and hearing him moan everytime. Oh, I absolutely detest that man!

  • My real regret is that Liverpool did to them what we should have done. How nice it would have been!What a parting gift to the Odious One, that Arsenal whooped his arse on home ground!But it never happened. Sigh…

  • Hi Nitram – you’re all clear on this channel. Post away. Sorry everyone else – but the good news is the tech issue is resolved.

  • Great news, Tony. Thanks for your efforts. Really appreciate them. Can’t think of a technical issue denying us the pleasure. Thanks a lot.

  • Nitram

    High Nett spending over extended periods of time has always been an absolute guarantee of trophies, and I suspect it still is.

    The problem is, when you do spend the eye watering amounts we are talking about there are only 2 trophies that count, the PL and CL. No amount of FA, League or Europa Cups will cut it.

    Now up until Fergie left United the 3 mega spenders had shared the PL around, and occasdionaly thrown in a CL. This, by and large, satisfys the respective clubs to the extent they feel they are getting an acceptable return on their investment.

    The problem with United, and more specifically Mourinho, is he has not only failed to win one of the big 2 but actually looks further away from doing so than ever.

    So what went wrong for United?

    First and formost Fergie left them in the shit with an aging, declining squad.

    Secondly Fergie recruitend Moyes. Say no more.

    But these are the real problems:

    Man City have taken spending into a different stratasphere and to consolidate that expenditure have recruited one of the best managers in the World.

    Chelseas, whilst riegning back on the spending for a while, are still massive spenders and seem to chose there managers pretty well.

    Liverpool are spending big, and now with top manager Klopp on board, more wisely. Stll won nothing though but that is sure to change sooner or later.

    And then of course Spurs have risen under Pochacheno, who despite very little money is doing very well. Over achieving I’d say. BUT they/HE has still won nothing. Now in contrast to Liverpool I cant see that changing anytime soon. But there is no doubt they are now a force to be reckoned with.

    And of course despite everything thats been said about us we are still a force. Ok we are struggling to make an impact on the title and CL but we are NOT mega spenders, so it would be a surprise to me if we did.

    In other words the World into which Mourinho walked at OT was a completely different World to the one in which he walked in to when he joined Chelsea all those years aga.

    Back then only Man United had anything like the resources that were put into Mourinhos hands. Those 2 clubs had first choice on just about any superstar up for grabs.

    With contracts beyond players wildest dreams they could tempt any player they liked.

    Things have changed and the truth of the matter is:

    Man Utd are no longer the first place players look when they are thinking of coming to the PL.

    Man Utd can be out bid for any player that comes on the market.

    It’s a creditable arguement that with Klopp in charge United have falling behind even Liverpool in the pecking order.

    Woe betide I would ever defend Mourinho but Perhaps through no fault of his own he was spending top dollar on substandard goods?

    The question is then, whilst the money keeps rolling in at City, Chelsea, and Liverpool, allied to their quality managers, will United continue to spend all there cash on substandard players simply because that’s all they have to cgose from.

    Has the gloss gone forever of the United brand?

  • potter

    Mourinho signed Alaxis to take him away from Wenger but had no idea of how to use him. . He had Lukaku who wants the ball played early to bully his way but Alexis holds the ball and twists and turns often inside reducing the space between the two . He had good players that didn’t gel all trying to get into the same space`. His mix was wrong , the new man will have to pare out the squad again .More money going out of the game to the agents pockets , they must love him.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    I’ve already suggested the pair of Gary Nevile and Paul Scholes for the post of manager/s in the previous post, but may I suggest more ?

    Ryan Giggs could potentially attract his fellow countrymen to join him this January . I talking about Ramsey and Bale. This after he ditches Sanchez,Fred, Bailly and a few more.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Sometimes jokes imitates life !

    There was a shepherd looking after his sheep on the side of a deserted road.

    Suddenly a brand new Porsche screeches to a halt.

    The driver, a man dressed in an Armani suit, Cerutti shoes, Ray-Ban sunglasses, TAG-Heuer wrist watch,
    & a Pierre Cardin tie
    gets out and asks the shepherd,

    ‘If I can tell you how many sheep you have, will you give me one of them?’

    The shepherd looks at
    the young man, then looks at the large flock of grazing sheep and replies, ‘Okay.’

    The young man parks the car, connects his laptop to the mobile-fax, enters a NASA Website, scans the ground using his GPS, opens a database and 60 Excel tables filled with algorithms and pivot tables.

    He then prints out a 150-page report on his high-tech mini-printer,
    turns to the shepherd and says, ‘’You have exactly 1,586 sheep.’.

    The shepherd cheers,
    “That’s correct, you can have your choicest sheep from the herd”.

    ‘The young man takes one of the animals which he likes most and cute from the flock and puts it in the back of his Porsche.

    The shepherd looks at him and asks, ‘If I guess your profession, will you return my animal to me?’

    The young man laughed and answers, ‘Yes, why not?’

    The shepherd says, ‘You are a MANAGEMENT CONSULTANT.’

    ‘How did you know?’
    asks the young man.

    ‘Very simple,’ answers the shepherd.

    1. First, you came here without being wanted.

    2. Second, you charged me a fee to tell me something I already knew.

    3. Third, you don’t understand anything about my business.

    Now, *May I please have my DOG back? “*

  • Brickfields Gunners

    There was a shepherd looking after his sheep on the side of a deserted road.

    Suddenly a brand new Porsche screeches to a halt.

    The driver, a man dressed in an Armani suit, Cerutti shoes, Ray-Ban sunglasses, TAG-Heuer wrist watch,
    & a Pierre Cardin tie
    gets out and asks the shepherd,

    ‘If I can tell you how many sheep you have, will you give me one of them?’

    The shepherd looks at
    the young man, then looks at the large flock of grazing sheep and replies, ‘Okay.’

    The young man parks the car, connects his laptop to the mobile-fax, enters a NASA Website, scans the ground using his GPS, opens a database and 60 Excel tables filled with algorithms and pivot tables.

    He then prints out a 150-page report on his high-tech mini-printer,
    turns to the shepherd and says, ‘’You have exactly 1,586 sheep.’.

    The shepherd cheers,
    “That’s correct, you can have your choicest sheep from the herd”.

    ‘The young man takes one of the animals which he likes most and cute from the flock and puts it in the back of his Porsche.

    The shepherd looks at him and asks, ‘If I guess your profession, will you return my animal to me?’

    The young man laughed and answers, ‘Yes, why not?’

    The shepherd says, ‘You are a MANAGEMENT CONSULTANT.’

    ‘How did you know?’
    asks the young man.

    ‘Very simple,’ answers the shepherd.

    1. First, you came here without being wanted.

    2. Second, you charged me a fee to tell me something I already knew.

    3. Third, you don’t understand anything about my business.

    Now, *May I please have my DOG back? “*

  • Menace

    Hi Tony – which technical issue has been solved? The PC/mobile rendering is still active & intermittent. So I assume it is some other technical issue.