Internet forums and radio phone-ins were overloaded with disgruntled Manchester United fans yesterday following their calamitous draw with Fulham. Many said their team was treading water in the transfer market despite coming up short in the Premier League last season.
It made me look at how England’s biggest clubs have recruited over the summer compared to their European counterparts and it seems like the balance of power has shifted away from this country. Could that be good news for Wolves though?
First of all, if I was a United fan I wouldn’t be chucking in the towel just yet. They didn’t play badly at all at Craven Cottage and Fulham are still a good side. Plus, they were playing their first home game with a new manager. It was always going to be a difficult fixture.
Fans are probably pressing the panic button a bit too soon because they see Chelsea juggernaut rolling teams over, Manchester City spending incredible sums and building a squad to match anyone in the league, Liverpool finally finding some stability and even Arsenal spending a bit of cash.
I’m sure they will still be either Champions or runners-up this season but the fact remains that United have spent relatively small beans in the transfer market this summer - Chris Smalling £10 million, Javier Hernandez £6 million, Bebe £7 million – compared to the likes of Barcelona and Real Madrid. Plus, while the players are undoubtedly very good, they are hardly headline grabbing names.
Elsewhere in the established big four, Chelsea haven’t brought in any stellar names either. Liverpool got a great free transfer in Cole and spent the rest of their time trying to persuade their best players not to leave them.
Arsenal have spent, but not big, and not on any superstars of world football.
Compare this picture to Spain. Real Madrid have signed Ozil for 15 million Euros, Kedira for 12 million Euros, Carvalho for 8 million Euros, Lyon for 8 million Euros, Canales for 5 million Euros and di Maria for 25 million Euros. Barcelona have spent 40 million Euros on Villa and 9 million Euros on Correia.
What is surprising is that Chelsea, United and Arsenal have got the financial clout to compete with the Spanish clubs and the big spending Italians like Juventus and Lazio, but they don’t seem to be using it.
Take Villa and Ozil – two brilliant players, widely admired by the English clubs and known to be available for big bucks. Did Chelsea or United even lodge a bid?
One of many angry Man City fans responding to last week’s blog said the big spending at Eastlands should be welcomed by supporters like me.
He said City were getting closer to United and Chelsea and the title race could now be said to be a five horse race.
I don’t think they are there yet but I’m sure they will get there at the rate they are going.
The point extends beyond the title race though. While Manchester City are moving further away from Wolves and the rest of the Premier League, the top four are surely getting closer.
If Wolves and the rest of the clubs keep spending money to improve their squads while United, Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal don’t spend big to improve theirs, the gaps is narrowing.
It doesn’t mean we’ll be challenging for their places of course. But it might mean that in a few years time, mid-table clubs will be going to Stamford Bridge and having a realistic hope of picking up a point. Or the likes of Wolves will be targeting a home game against Arsenal as a good chance for three points.
In short, the further United, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool drift away from the powerhouses of Barcelona and Real Madrid, the closer they get to the rest of us.
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