Five English clubs who defy unnecessary expenditure
Pride cometh before a fall they say. And while I’m not here to discuss arrogance or petulance, it’s deeply related. For years the Premier League has claimed to be the best in the world. The most competitive yes, but no not the best. While no longer the first stop for the best talent in the world. The clubs, in disillusionment continue to spend beyond their means. The most pertinent example of this is of course Portsmouth, who spent and enjoyed three great seasons, but ended up in administration.
It’s fine for clubs like Chelsea, United and City to spend astronomical proportions. While the likes of Spurs and Everton cannot sustain the spending; to be in profit, they need to sell. It’s undoubtedly a seller’s market. In such a market, where Fernando Torres is bought for 50 million, an ineffective bulldozer like Andy Carroll goes for 35m and even inexperienced and untested youngsters are traded for sky-high fees, it is an untenable situation. Once in a while, if someone believes in a youngster, breaking the bank is not a bad thing. But anyone who gets the same hype, is traded sky-high, and more often than not crumbles with the weight of the pressure.
David Bentley, Shaun Wright-Phillips, Carroll, Torres, Stewart Downing, Andrei Shevchenko and the list of major flops goes on and on. Then again not all clubs have Russian oligarchs or Middle East sheikhs as their owners. Some have to survive on minimal means and get along pretty well. For them rejects from big clubs and players from lower leagues are the lifeline, even cheap foreign imports work well enough.
A look across the league tells us that there are clubs who have spent within means and still prospered, clubs with smaller coffers and bigger hearts that have been successful at keeping up a certain standard of play. Clubs that follow the true ideals of football. Those of hard work, fan support, loyalty and unflinching determination and even focus on developing youngsters. These are the clubs who have made the most of their investments:
5. Wigan Athletic:
A small fan base and an impoverished club have managed to stay in the top flight of English football for almost a decade now. They have escaped relegation time and again. Their best players have always been picked off in recent times; Victor Moses and Antonio Valencia to Chelsea and United respectively. Roberto Martinez of course deserves credit for sticking with the Latics in face of better offers; he has shown commitment rarely seen today. They have not dithered and even though they are part of a relegation dog fight yet again, don’t be surprised if you find them in the Premier League next season.
4. Norwich City:
Current Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert did a wonderful job at Norwich with the help of Grant Holt, Anthony Pilikington, Wes Hoolahan and James Ruddy. With the likes of Nathaniel Clyne and Seb Bassong proving impressive cover at the back, they look like they will overcome the ‘second season syndrome’ suffered by promoted clubs. The Canaries may no longer have Lambert at the helm but Chris Houghton has continued in the traditions of the club and they have been rewarded with memorable wins against Arsenal and Manchester United.
3. West Bromwich Albion:
They generally have a fair bit of money to spend but they still make it into the list as they know how to spend it. Bargain buys like Youssouf Mulumbu and Claudio Yacob have been the cornerstone for success this season. Romelu Lukaku a player they got for free, albeit on loan has been crucial to their success. Steve Clark has stayed true to his objectives and those of the club.
The blue half of Mersyside has had to keep selling players to stay solvent. Tim Cahill and Mikel Arteta had to go to balance the books. Inadvertently it has become a necessity rather than bonus for David Moyes to get the best out of cheap players. And he has done exactly that with Kevin Mirallas, Tim Howard, Darron Gibson, Phil Neville, Maroune Fellaini, Phil Jagielka and Sylvain Distin, who stand testament to his man management skills, managerial acumen and financial intelligence.
A truly inspiring story. Saved by it’s fans who took the club over and started running it. And only 9 years after nearly going bust, they are League Cup champions and a Premier League team. The fans formed a the board at the club and it has been this board’s vision that sees Swansea eligible to compete in the Europa League. Under Martinez, then Rodgers and now Laudrup, Swansea have only gotten better as time has gone on. This team has been a ideal example of fan participation and financial management. They have produced men like Leon Britton, Joe Allen and Ashley Williams. Players like Nathan Dyer and Angel Rangel and Chico have proved their worth too. Not to forget the steal of the season in Michu for a frugal 2m pounds.