Why Money Isn’t Everything? A Slap On The Face By Liverpool And Atlético Madrid To Big Spenders

They say money makes winners. Of course it is a necessity, but is it sufficient enough to win? Football being a game of indeterminate permutations, it makes difficult reading and little sense as to how a solitary entity as money can determine success. True that money makes some tasks far more smoother, but the concept of money being the be all and end all of the beautiful game is a bit too hard to buy. Appearances can be deceptive, and it isn’t always that riches breed more riches.

The growth and emergence of moneybag clubs in the recent past is no secret. Their dominion is so much so that every step in a direction other than forward is met with widespread reaction and scrutiny. The numbers are increasing by the day; and hallowed clubs of yore like Liverpool and AC Milan have had to search for routes alternate for moving forward. The two Milan clubs have somewhat stagnated of late; managerial chop-and-change has made them yo-yo into mediocrity. The aura is there, but diminishing fast.

Liverpool

Same couldn’t be said of England’s Liverpool. The English masters of Europe have become the hipsters’ club. Fresher vibes emanate from the Anfield corridors these days, thanks in no small part to the flawed genius of their manager Brendan Rodgers. A purist’s delight and an idealist’s bliss, Liverpool’s success this season has come pretty cheap. Cheap in terms of the money thrown around these days; Cardiff City signed an unknown Andreas Cornelius for £7.5m and offloaded him in double quick time after a grand total of zero starts.

The imbalance is there for all to see. Jose Mourinho might talk all day long about Manchester City’s huge spending and why logically they should win the Premier League, but his Chelsea aren’t quite the street urchins in the race. Chelsea spent truckloads in January, most notably re-signing former academy prospect Nemanja Matic from Benfica. Pure footballing theory and economics make it a good acquisition, but a pretty bad deal. Logic defies Mourinho’s now-customary jibes; his hands delve into Roman Abramovich’s deep pockets every now and then, and this makes him even more hollow in speech.

Back we go to Liverpool. The most expensive piece of their jigsaw is the obviously obvious Luis Suarez. Even though the rest of the squad cost far more than peanuts, the fact that three of their academy players are dead-cert regulars points to a change of philosophy at the club. Who now remembers Nathan Eccleston, Stephen Darby and Jay Spearing, the guys who won the FA Youth Cup in 06/07? Perhaps a tiny fraction of Liverpool fans still do, but the club have come a long way from letting prospects off the hook to turning them into stars a la Raheem Sterling. Liverpool have done things this season that most clubs crave; they’ve set standards and raised bars, spent wisely and played to their potential.

Arsene Wenger has now overseen nine trophyless years with Arsenal, hoping to build a team from scratch to compete at the top, with the toppers. But his vision is realized somewhere else. Brendan Rodgers and his Liverpool side have literally slapped on Wenger’s face; there could be lesser hiding spots for the Frenchman should Liverpool win the title this season. Liverpool have distinctly shown this season that spending money isn’t the only way forward. True that Liverpool are around the home stretch of the season, knocked out of both cups, and have a slim chance of lifting the title. But if only trophies define a team’s progress, then we are in for a pretty ordinary season for Liverpool. Then why the glowing general perception about Liverpool? This is reason enough that Liverpool have had success this season, and this is success that hasn’t been bought.

Heavy weather has been made of Manchester United’s need to spend big in the summer. For all of United’s reserves of cash, it is pretty evident that they are a club in the red. Huge revenues for the club means that they should do fine with their debts, but they just cannot go into a shopping spree like it’s done in the city’s blue half. The roster has somewhat grown stale, and with their manager looking increasingly impotent as the season has worn on, changes are necessary. But does this require breaking banks? Insecure fans might answer in the affirmative, but the truth of the fact is that foundations need to be stronger. Cosmeticization produces the finished article, and Manchester United are far from the finished article at the moment.

Liverpool’s been the story of the season. A subject of mockery for decades, they have come up trumps as the underdogs. Borussia Dortmund did that to a certain Bayern Munich a few years ago with little to no money, but unlike Die Schwarz Gelben, Liverpool still remain one of the giants of England. Dortmund’s impressive squad has almost been broken up now; it remains to be seen how Liverpool can stave off vultures.

Another club that has risen from the shadows is Atletico Madrid. A club that plays in the dirty suburbs of the glitzy Spanish capital, Atleti have risen incredibly from being the laughing stock of Spain to title contenders. A club with a history of wasting money, Atletico with the effervescent Diego Simeone has curbed certain instincts. And they’ve also been helped by their enviable ability to produce astonishingly high-scoring strikers who balance their books every now and then. Their star man, Diego Costa, was a specimen of obscurity not too long ago.

And now Atletico are well poised to make a forty fold profit on him. The magnitude of Atleti’s punches above their weight has made them the neutral’s favorite. And how much did they spend? Did they ape the spending of city rivals Real Madrid? Their most expensive player? Arda Turan. The smooth transition has largely been helped by the Falcao money and the nous of Simeone. And they could give Liverpool a run for their money for being the story of the season.

The myths of money will remain, from now onto eternity. And it will remain an invaluable asset. But overemphasizing the impact of money is stretching too far. Just ask Montpellier chairman Louis Nicollin the story behind his orange-dyed hair. A bunch of half-decent players beat big-moneyed PSG to the title in 2011-12 and that’s what makes a fairy tale. When money talks, we are in for predictability. Liverpool and Atletico have shown the other way this season, with lesser reserves and better minds. A noisy Anfield night is far better than the luxurious Parc des Princes. If only we had more romantics, football would’ve been so much better. And as they say, “You can only do so much with your money if you lack conviction.”

 

Written by Dinesh V

Co-founder of Soccersouls. Living a start-up life 24/7
Follow @dineshintwit

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