Ever since Roman Abramovic and Jose Mourinho pulled off a hitherto unprecedented Houdini act with Chelsea, buying success in an instant, Europe has been taken over by a ‘cash revolution’. This has involved several billionaires taking over clubs and injecting huge sums of money, hoping to land instant success and emulate the ‘AbraLsea’ act. Chelsea did break new ground, going against cliché that ‘money can’t buy class and history’. They seem to have created a new catchphrase, ‘money surely can buy success and create history; we witnessed Chelsea lift the Champions League, in a season they finished 6th and struggled all throughout’. Not quite as catchy, but still!
Several clubs have been drafted into this new league, of the ‘cash kings’, all with the aim of replicating Chelsea in their respective countries; Manchester City in England, PSG in France, Anzhi in Russia and Shanghai Shenua in China.
But the question must be posed; How much can money really buy? It certainly can and will purchase skill, potential and competitive advantage. But does it really create a team? Chelsea only won the Champions League 9 years after the ‘cash revolution’ and after spending an estimated £2 Billion. And frankly on the balance of play it’s hardly what they merited. Manchester City have been equally extravagant in their spending, but didn’t pull off a ‘Chelsea’ and win the league in their first year. Indeed, if what we see is anything to go by, it will take them twice the time Chelsea did to lift a Champions League and PSG will suffer the same fate
The reason seems apparent; money buys great players, not great teams, Manchester City, Chelsea, PSG, Anzhi and till recently, Madrid, are rarely easy on the eye. Most of their matches are decided by a single moment of individual brilliance. Ronaldo stole it from City at the death, Drogba ‘packing the trophy in his pocket’ in Munich, and Sergio Aguero’s injury time winner breaking the hearts of the red half of Manchester.
PSG were passengers against Porto, Manchester City should have been beaten by Dortmund, Chelsea should thank the heavens for the brilliance of Oscar; Juventus were much the better side. They hardly seem to have that bit of team chemistry, the flair of an in sync machine. The river water fluency and smoothness, the type that you see at Barcelona, Arsenal, and Swansea
In the years just passed, Manchester United have made it to 3 Champions league finals and one semi-final, Barcelona to 3 finals and one semi-final, Bayern Munich to two finals. The cash kings however, have struggled. City look out of place in the Champions League. Madrid went for 6 years without reaching the quarter final stages, and PSG; well, they are still relatively new, but judging by the way they played against Porto, they will not match the elite of Europe.
It has become more apparent to me that, player experience, on its own doesn’t do much in Europe’s biggest stage. There is need for something bigger, something the cash kings may only get with time, and success; which will not be that easy. This something is ‘team experience and history’. Winning the title in their respective countries has little meaning, very little on Europe’s big stage.
The Champions League is something cash can’t buy and with financial fair play coming into the picture, my question becomes all the more fascinating and worthy of debate. How much can/ will money buy? Can money buy success, class, history, and the pinnacle of European success?
What’s your take on it? How much is £2 billion worth on a football pitch?
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