It’s been something of a trend in the recent years of football. Big money takeover, all star, Harlem globetrotters style squads assembled purely to win things in the short term future. This season, it seems like we’re beginning to see a shift in the balance of power when it comes to big name signings, and for some reason the money spent on a player seems to be becoming more of a bane than a blessing, with big transfer fees bringing big pressure and a series of flops.
One of, but not the only example, is this year’s title race. Man United have all but retained the premier league, spending money of course, but not a huge amount, and on young, hungry players who will serve the club for many years. Compare this to rivals City who have bought players for the short term, spent huge amounts of cash, and have p***** their title chances up the wall with a succession of player and manager disagreements, off-field incidents and a general lack of unity. The opposite of United, who have shown a togetherness throughout a difficult period for them, losing key players in Vidic and Fletcher and replacing them with fringe players such as Jonny Evans instead of throwing money at the problem. United’s current team has a very young average age and will continue to improve as a unit whereas the Man City all stars will continue to disintegrate and age. City missed their best chance to win the league this season, and wont do it any time in the near future without the signing of a certain Messi…
It’s not just the title race, though, let’s take European challengers Liverpool, fresh from their defeat against Newcastle. Liverpool splashed the cash on Carroll, on Henderson, on Downing, Enrique, Adam, Suarez. Players who individually should be good enough to win trophies, but together are failing. Over on tyneside, Newcastle have picked up bargain signings such as Ba, Cisse, Ben Arfa, Tiote and Cabaye, and have continued to push young fringe players into the mix. The management of the team looks to have been much better than that of Liverpool, and they are reaping the rewards. It proves the importance of a team spirit and a management team who can get the best out of players.
My final example is in the relegation scrap. The three promoted teams, Swansea, Norwich and QPR. Norwich and Swansea have made some very good signings, but not spent huge amounts of money, and have performed valiantly all season, both are now virtually assured of survival. The management teams and spirit have been the driving force behind some fantastic results and a brilliant league position. QPR on the other hand have wielded the axe in the boardroom, sacking Neil Warnock, and as they have continued to struggle they have thrown money at the problem. QPR are still well and truly in the relegation scrap and in my opinion wont be in the league next season.
With the financial fair play rules coming into place, a few clubs could learn from examples set by Newcastle, Norwich, United and Swansea and continue to build their solid foundations before just splashing the cash. In a market that is already inflated and sees huge amounts of money change hands for players, perhaps if those transfers stopped happening the footballing world would be a less corrupt place.