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- Football corruption and scandals. Why is it all so under reported? Part 1
- Football corruption and scandals. A few stories that did get reported. Part 2
- Football corruption and scandals. How we tipped off Fifa and other unlikely tales. Part 3
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by Tony Attwood
In the earlier piece today I returned to the theme of spending money on transfers, and what the top spenders of last summer have got for their expenditure.
In effect if all that spending was based on the expectation that the clubs in question would be higher up the league than now, then clearly they were disappointed when looking at the league table:
|14||Brighton and Hove Albion||22||6||6||10||25||30||-5||24|
|16||West Ham United||21||6||4||11||25||33||-8||22|
Of course we can’t ever know what the expectations were, but we might take a guess that
Manchester United having spent £148m would have thought that they would be comfortably in the top four by now. I suspect they didn’t expect to be heading for the title but still, they surely couldn’t have thought that they would be outside the top four looking at another Europa season next year.
Aston Villa spent £144.5m in what I suspect was an effort to secure midtable security and as we can see they are lurking in the relegation zone. Going down having spent all that summer money, and having committed to the salaries that come with such expenditure, would be a financial disaster for the club from which it may find it hard to recover.
Arsenal’s aim is clearly to recover the Champions League money rather than remain in the Europa, but the way things stand they are not going to get either. Of course changing the manager was not on the cards – Mr Emery had a two year contract and was allowed to develop the squad as he wished, so we have a lot of his chosen players in the squad, and a lot of money has been used up paying off his team of coaches.
Manchester City are the focal point of the earth-wide City Group of clubs, and the expectation is that they would be champions not just last season but every season. To have a club that has not ever won the Premier League way out in front of them is not the plan at all, and they must be wondering what they got for their £134.8m on top of everything else they already had.
The club has notoriously threatened to sue Uefa in every court in Europe if it dares investigate their finances any further, but that all seems rather a side-issue if their attempt at eternal league dominance is not brought to fruition.
Everton spent £118.5m in an effort to get into the Europa League, and are currently 11th. Last season they finished 8th, and they must have thought that amount of money was simply an investment in the future. Instead it has turned into a loss with no return at all. And they still have a new stadium to finance.
Tottenham Hotspur spent £101.5m with the clear aim of securing their Champions League future and all the wealth that brings. Instead they currently find themselves having bypassed the Europa places and are now outside of the European places altogether.
So what has gone wrong for these spending clubs?
I suspect it is a mixture of factors, which I’ll briefly set out below.
1: Instability in the squad
Bring in a number of new players at once and the balance of the squad gets changed. Change the manager and everything goes up in the air. That, in essence, is the Tottenham problem.
During the build up to any managerial change uncertainty creeps into the squad. Likewise, when there is endless chatter about moving the manager on, just a year after he came into the job the uncertainty increases. Then if he buys lots of players and they are not at once a success, the whole thing gets worse. That is Arsenal’s problem.
3: Expectations are raised
The media loves to talk up transfers because a) it is the cheapest sort of article to write (requiring no funding other than the journalists’ alcohol bill) and everyone else is doing it, so it looks like the norm.
But some supporters still believe the stories about transfers, and so they can get excited about incoming players – until the same journalists who talked the players up in the first place, now talk them down.
4: Players take a while to settle in.
Just because the new players are no good now, that doesn’t mean they won’t be in the future. Henry, Bergkamp, Pires all took a while to settle down – a whole season settling in, is not uncommon. But egged on by the journalists and bloggers fans now expect players to deliver on day one.
5: It is guesswork forced on a club by media
The way the media works, many fans actually believe that their club is about to buy its way out of trouble. This rarely happens, because it is often very hard to see just how a player will fit into a new team
What else could be done?
There are three alternatives – nurturing a club’s youth players and bringing them through more quickly (Arsenal have now moved over to this approach somewhat), developing existing players (this is very difficult for Arsenal because of the remourceless attacks by fans and the media on players like Xhaka, the players lose confidence) and evolving the tactics of the club.
This last approach was the Wenger way, and he was the absolute master of it. But the fans turned on Wenger, and anything that looks like a return to Wengerianism is likely to result in another media-led fan revolt.
The fact is that until we can start admitting that spending more and more on players that quite often we, the average fans, have never heard of, only works in the hands of genius managers like Mr Wenger, we’re probably not going to get out of this crsis.
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