After Manchester City’s extraordinary spending spree began in 2008, their new found wealth hasn’t suffered the criticism Chelsea received when Roman Abramovich brought the club in the summer of 2003 for a deal worth £140 million. But was it the only reason success rained on Stamford Bridge?
There is no doubt that the money invested in Chelsea’s team helped push them to new heights and challenge for the trophies on offer. However after spending £100 million on players including Claude Makelele, Damien Duff and Joe Cole, the team still ended their first money filled season with no trophies.
Still accused of ‘buying their way to trophies,’ the tag spurred the club onto more spending on what were the current stars in world football. They started by sacking tinkering manager Claudio Ranieri. His replacement was the self-proclaimed ‘special one’ Jose Mourinho, who had just led Porto to glory in the Portuguese League and the infamous Champions League.
The critics were given more food to feed on as the blues spent a further £89 million to strengthen a progressing squad. Didier Drogba was the biggest expenditure in the club’s history at £24 million, a long way from their first transfer of just £100 back in 1905 for Bob McRoberts. Now it is justified, as his goal scoring prowess has brought memories of Bobby Tambling and Kerry Dixon, the club’s all-time top goal scorers.
With all the money spent, it was no coincidence Chelsea had their most successful season up to that point. The excuse of ‘they have brought their way to success’ was more prominent than ever and criticism of their methods was in abundance.
They went on to win two more Premier League titles along with three F.A. Cup triumphs and one League Cup. This was in spite of Mourinho’s departure in 2007, at the time novice replacement Avram Grant and the short stint Luis Felipe Scolari short comings.
The free-flowing money from Abramovich’s bulging wallet has now tightened up but they still managed the double in the 2009-2010 season with Yuri Zhirkov the only notable signing at £18 million, but he had minimal influence on the team’s success.
After sifting through all the money stats in relation to success, the amounts, at the time were absurd. Although Manchester City have now brought a whole new meaning to ‘buying success’ yet, for some reason, the criticism has died down abruptly.
In September of 2008, the club was brought for a staggering £210 million as Sheik Mansour brought his family wealth of an estimated £555 billion to the blue side of Manchester. To put this amount into perspective, Abramovich’s spending power is worth £11.7 billion.
The new take-over promised even bigger players, bigger transfer fees and more recently, colossal wage packets. As the brother of the ruler of Abu-Dhabi, he comfortably offered £540 million for transfers, creating endless possibilities for the club.
It was unsurprising that a new British record was set as Brazilian maestro Robinho transferred from Real Madrid for a cool £32.4 million. The club spent an estimated £115 million to kick start their challenge for success on all fronts. The spending included Nigel De Jong for £17 million and striking flop Jo for £19 million.
The general feeling around the country was positive, a lot of people saw it as refreshing that a ‘lesser’ team had the chance to challenge the big four (Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool). Unlike the scrutiny Chelsea faced. It begs the question, if Man City were to win trophies; will it open the flood gates of criticism?
So far the richest club in football has failed to show themselves as title contenders or even trophy winners. Mark Hughes conceded to the pressure of immediate success put on him, and after several draws in the Premier League, found himself on the end of a sacking.
The reigns were taken over by Italian Roberto Mancini, who had been replaced by Mourinho at Inter Milan. Despite a clear defensive mindset, many tipped the 2009-2010 season to be one for Man City to dominate.
Mansour’s spending reached even greater heights at around £120 million, the likes of Gareth Barry, Emmanuel Adebayor and Carlos Tevez were recruited to change the clubs fortunes. Still, the money didn’t bring any success and the club failed to even make the Champions League places after being beaten out by Tottenham on the last day of the season. This was to spark only one inevitable reaction, more spending.
The summer of 2011 saw five players sign for over £100 million. David Silva, Mario Balotelli, Yaya Toure, James Milner and Jerome Boetang came in to not only add strength to the starting 11, but to push more stars onto the substitutes bench.
The clubs dugout now holds in excess of 100 million pounds worth of players. This equates to more than the starting line-ups of Blackpool, West Brom, Newcastle, Stoke, Wigan and Wolves put together.
Sitting pretty in second place behind local rivals Manchester United in the Premier League, it is clear to see the ludicrous spending is now coming to fruition in the Premiership. They are also looking to progress further in the Europa league after walking the group stage.
Nevertheless, they are still, by many, not considered as genuine title contenders. Even the £35 million signing of Bosnian goal-getter Edin Dzeko failed to spark any real attention to their title bid.
The points made lean towards the fact that Chelsea did need more than just money for success. A mixture of good management, wise spending and experienced players delivering the goods on a regular basis has given the champions success, with the money forming a solid foundation.
Meanwhile Manchester City remain the clearest example that it is not only money that led to Chelsea‘s achievements. But is that all set to change?