Who did Man City buy that Arsenal or Liverpool could not afford?

Editor F365
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola, Liverpool coach Jurgen Klopp and Mikel Arteta of Arsenal
The Premier League title race is on

Man City are not Lance Armstrong FC; they are not financially doping. They just spend their money better.

Send your views on this and other subjects to theeditor@football365.com


Man City outspent you? Have some sense of perspective…
Hearing the Liverpool and Arsenal fans trotting out the usual “what do you expect…Man115City outspent us” seems contrived to say the least.

It’s a bit like a billionaire complaining that he couldn’t get into an expensive restaurant because another richer, more handsome billionaire has bribed the maitre’d to take the last table.

Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, and Man Utd are seriously rich football clubs – four of the top 10 in the world. Even lowly Arsenal have over €500m in revenue (€100m more than Juventus in 11th place) and can afford to spend £200m in one transfer window, including £100m on one player without threatening their FFP obligations.

Liverpool make an additional €150m per annum more than Arsenal, so can’t exactly cry poor either.

To be clear, who exactly couldn’t Arsenal or Liverpool buy, but Man City could…because they didn’t have enough cash?

In wages (as in transfer fees), Man U spend more than Man City, but Arsenal and Liverpool still easily slot into the Top 10 in the world and can afford to pay the wages of pretty much any player they want. In fact, moneybags City only have 3 of the top 10 wage earners in the Premier League (Grealish, Haaland and De Bruyne)

The reality is that all those clubs could have made a play for Pep, and could have bought Grealish, Haaland, or De Bruyne. For whatever reason, they didn’t and prioritised other players (such as Salah and Gabriel Jesus).

Money is clearly a factor in success – but all these teams have more money than God. An actual long-term plan, finding and backing a manager (Klopp certainly counts) and good recruiting – paying top dollar where it is appropriate (VVD, Allison, Rice spring to mind) is how you compete.

Man U are a case study of how money alone doesn’t buy you success. They have more of everything than anybody but are a raging dumpster fire.

If Liverpool and Arsenal don’t win this year, it will have more to do with how Liverpool went about their midfield ‘rebuild’ and the strikers they chose; and Arsenal’s fascination with dumping on their keepers, Havertz, and not buying a proper striker.

Conversely, if Man City lose, it will be because they weakened themselves considerably by binning off Gungodan, Mahrez, and (seemingly) Cole Palmer.

At the top of the Premier League, it’s how you spend it…not whether you have it.
Matthew (ITFC) – paying £250k per week in wages, and trying to compete with Leicester, Leeds and Southampton

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…In response to Vish (AFC), Melbourne, Australia calling Man City “The Lance Armstrong of Football” I would like to retort.

Armstrong cheated by juicing himself with various performance enhancing drugs to his advantage over natural non-drug taking cyclists. His body was then stronger, faster and with more endurance, which allowed him to perform at a level no one else could complete with. That is clearly cheating by gaining an unfair advantage over everyone he is competing against.

What Manchester City have done is spend similar amounts of money to the established Big 4 from the 2000s, Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool and recently with their transfer spend, Arsenal. Having investment into the team to allow City to compete at a similar level financially, doesn’t sound at all like the same as what Armstrong did to be honest. And as you pointed out, now that City have invested and grown, their Net Spend is actually less that the old Big 4 in recent times.

City haven’t spent a disproportionate amount of money compared with their rivals like Juventus, PSG or Bayern Munich did/do in their leagues. City don’t have a wage bill double everyone else. City don’t have a squad that is twice the size of everyone else’s so they play a different XI in each competition (in fact City have the smallest sized squad in the league).

City haven’t bribed the Premier League so they can play 12 players each game. These would all be massive advantages and clearly a parallel with the Armstrong’s stronger, faster and with more endurance angle. And yet none of them happened. What happened is City are managed by a genius and are extremely well run.

The idea that City have “unlimited fossil fuel funding” is laughable when City haven’t signed a left back since 2017. And that same left back was injured after a month and City have had to use midfielders, right backs, centre backs and even Bernardo Silva as solutions for this gap since then.

Why would City bid £85M for Rice and then walk away when it got to £100M? They needed to replace Gundogan, they did their due diligence to identify Rice, so why would City walk away if they had unlimited money? Same goes for all the other players that City have walked away from when the price went too high, because they don’t have unlimited money.

Your comparison with Armstrong is just a lazy extension of the fairness idea purported by FFP. The ‘fairness’ that comes from the biggest clubs being able to outspend everyone else and rules in place to limit investment, which means no amount of ‘organic growth’ can compete with the established elite.

I have argued in the mailbox for a leveller playing field as I welcome more competition. But as usual with fans of Big Red teams the ‘fairness’ they want, is for their clubs to have less financial competition and less football competition. Or coming back to your analogy, they had the best performance enhancing drugs, and don’t want anyone else getting their hands on them.
Andy D. Manchester. MCFC


Whose day?
Thoroughly enjoyed the mail from Nik UTV. As a fellow Villa fan, I’ve still got a nice warm glow after the result against Arsenal and hope that with the Spurs result, we can stop dropping the ball and consolidate 4th place as our own. However, two days on and something is not sitting right with me, so I feel the need to (a) get it off my chest and (b) see if anyone else spotted it.

Cast your mind back to Sunday afternoon. The final whistle blows. Mikel has a face like a slapped arse and the Villa players are celebrating in front of their fans. Sky do the usual quick cut highlights package of the goals as they head to a commercial break and display their now customary tag line which on this occasion reads:


I’m sorry, I could’ve sworn that City played Luton the day before. City’s Day? REALLY?!? We’ve just deservedly beaten a team who haven’t lost at home in the league since January, a team who are within 2 points of the top spot and THAT’S the tag line you decide to go with?!?

F*** you, Sky. Show some re-cocking-spect.
Jeff G, Villan in West Brom (No doubt Sky will be able to use that tag line again when the 115 charges get dropped/ignored/paid off in 2029)


Klopp clearly wants an upgrade
I’m not writing into stir up sh*t but I can’t remember another time when a successful manager has opted to leave a big club with big ambitions and where they are as adored by the fans and the owners as Klopp is at Liverpool. And I’m not buying the whole retiring BS, as we know he will be back managing somewhere within a year.

To me it is obvious. Klopp thinks he can do better and is quitting so he can take over at Real, Barca, Bayern at some point soon and it is easier to tell a fanbase that you are leaving them to retire, rather than going to a major European rival. Klopp wants an upgrade but wants to keep his legacy intact.

I think the problem for Klopp is the top players aren’t going to go there and that is the reality of the situation and if you look at their signings of late, you can see that. Would Haaland have gone there? MBappe? Klopp is an elite level manager and he wants to manage elite level players without having to constantly create the elite level players. I think that is what he means when he says he is tired. He wants to win it all, again and again but why does he have to be the only elite coach to do it the hard way every time?
Seamus, Sweden


Regarding my rant from Sunday: in the cold light of day, and after having slept on the matter twice now, upon reflection, I feel I greatly overreacted to our…

Nah, f*** it. Gutless-wankers-mailing-it-in-three-times-against-a-shite-United. Blow it all up.
Scott, LFC, Toronto


Darwin Nunez is the new Nani
I heard someone once remark of Nani that “every game he looks like he’s making his debut”, and I think the exact same can be said of Darwin.

There’s a certain type of player (at all levels, even my 6-a-side) that have plenty of ability, but absolutely zero footballing brain. Every decision, whether to take on the man, pass or shoot, is a coin toss. A 50:50 chance of them getting it right. There will be spells when they’re “in good form”, but actually it’s just the laws of probability landing on heads more often for a while, and likewise when they’re dire and everything is tails.

As a fan, it’s frustrating, because you can see they have the physical and technical attributes to be a top class player and if things could just click… but they won’t. It never will. They are what they are. Darwin, like Nani, is a decent player, capable of the sublime but also the ridiculous. He’s coming 25, he’s not a kid, the penny won’t drop. Accept him for what he is now or be forever frustrated; he’s not for changing.
Lewis, Busby Way

📣 TO THE COMMENTS! Can Darwin Nunez evolve? Email your thoughts to theeditor@football365.com or Join the debate here

Doomed Ten Hag acting like a long-term manager
I think Ten Hag may the most stubborn manager in the league and he’s managing United as if he’s still going to be there in 3 years’ time when I’m sure even he realises he might be gone in 3 months’ time? This goes on a bit so bear with me.

United have over the last 10 years been most effective in a counter attacking style. There are a few issues with this style however. It’s based on the premise that the opposition have to be attacking you in order for your attacking opportunity to be created and that opportunity is only possible once you’ve won possession which can be hard.

This tactic can often result in a low block defence which has to absorb a huge amount of attacking pressure in order to create a relatively small number of attacking opportunities. The upside is that your attacking opportunities are often of high value because you’re attacking a defence that is back tracking and disorganised.

Ten Hag’s current tactic is to recreate the upside of the counter attacking style but to multiply the frequency of attacking opportunities by changing the initial premise. Instead of waiting for opportunities by winning possession in the defensive third he wants his team to retain possession in that area long enough for the opposition to become defensively vulnerable in the same way they are when losing possession.

This would give United more of the attacking opportunities where they perform best whilst retaining possession and omitting the problems associated with a low block defence. United do this by playing the ball around the defensive line and retreating back towards their own goal which draws the opposition into their half. When sufficiently deep they either play a long accurate pass or a series of quick forward passes into the front three who can now attack a thin backtracking defence.

The downside of such a strategy is that its high risk and leads to higher possession turnover as with any attempt to move the ball quickly over a long range the likelihood of retaining possession reduces. Perhaps the long ball into the forwards is inaccurate or so quick that the forward can’t control it, or its somewhat telegraphed and can be intercepted. To counter this what United should be doing is pushing up the defensive line and midfield as the ball goes forward so if possession is lost, they are in a compact shape and in a position to counter press higher up the pitch. Its mainly this bit that’s causing the issues.

This style of play requires all the teams’ players to be both technically superior and physically superior as this is the only way to reduce the level of risk associated with turnovers. United’s current defence of Maguire & co certainly don’t have the ability or temperament on the ball to retain possession well enough to make this strategy work, even with Martinez and Shaw in the side it would be a stretch.

With ageing and generally slow players (Casemiro, Eriksen, Maguire, Varane etc) there is not the physical ability to get up and down the pitch with the speed and frequency which is necessary. Someone mentioned previously how United games resemble basketball because of how much its end to end and that’s not far of what is required. We need Bielsa levels of running and Klopp levels of intensity.

Why would Ten Hag implement this reckless style without the necessary players? Stubbornness. The now meme like response of “stick to the plan” is basically his mantra, he’s been saying it since the losses to Brighton and Brentford in his first season and I think this style has been the plan all along.

Even last season where he was generally more tactically conservative there were games when we saw this type of strategy. I reckon he sat down when he first took the job and decided this is what I want the team to be in 4-5 years’ time and pretty much everything he’s doing is with that goal in mind. He’s said at the start of this season that he wants United to be the ‘best transition team in the world’ and perfecting this style would achieve that.

There are generally more players coming through who are technically and physically superior. Improvements in coaching as well as the influence of Tiki Taka and Gegenpressing have resulted in young players who have a better overall ability and are less pigeonholed, the big lads aren’t automatically designated as centre backs of strikers anymore.

Think of Jude Bellingham, Adam Wharton, and Archie Gray. Lads over 6 foot who have the technically ability formerly reserved for diminutive mids like Scholes and Xavi but with the size and power of athletic box to box players. This is the type of player Ten Hag needs and if United could recruit players like this over the next few seasons then his plan might bear fruit but like the style itself it’s a high risk strategy.

If he was to remain in charge and was backed to perfect this strategy then that team would be a sight to behold. It might not be solid or conservative enough to win the league but it would play murder in the cups and likely do best against those teams who press high. Ultimately, I don’t think he’ll get the time to finish his plan but the chaos is at least very entertaining in the meantime and understanding his motives does make it a bit easier to endure the bad performances.
Dave, Manchester

READ: Erik ten Hag will pay with Man Utd job as chumps repeatedly fail to get the message


Can you learn from Pochettino, F365?
Do you remember a few months ago when every other F365 story was about how Pochettino had no plan or playing style and must be sacked and would never be the right manager for Chelsea and all the Chelsea players hated him and sack him go on sack him anyone saying he should be given time to pick his way through a hodgepodge squad massacred by injury is an IDIOT look at Chelsea’s appalling lack of cohesion sack him sack him SACK HIM.

Do you remember that?

I’m just wondering if maybe that’s a learning experience for certain writers that might apply to another club.

Merely a thought.
Tim Sutton (Cole Palmer might be De Bruyne levels of good)

(Nope, don’t remember that as we don’t write that much about Chelsea; they just don’t get the clicks – Ed)


On that Chelsea penalty moment
Nicholas Jackson came across as nothing but a petulant child with his tantrum wanting to take the penalty. I give Noni a slight pass because I think he thought he was the one who won the penalty but the ref correctly pointed to the foul on Palmer, which Madueke didn’t see he just heard the whistle go after he was tackled. But Jackson stropping about and having to be physically restrained by Gusto, Silva and Gallagher is a joke. He needs to be punished for that.

He’s supposed to be a professional but he acts like a 9 year old down the park. It was the fact he kept it up for so bloody long was the most embarrassing part of it. Him and Sterling both need to sort out their shitty childish attitudes or leave if they can’t buy into winning as a team and doing what’s best for the team.
Aaron CFC Ireland

👉 Five weird Cole Palmer transfer nuggets: Chelsea wanted Arsenal outcast instead after Burnley ‘agreement’
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Three Chelsea thoughts
Firstly to echo Will Ford, what a weekend of results for us perennially depressed Chelsea fans!

I’d just like to address three things.

1) “where would Chelsea be without Cole Palmer?” is a question I’m seeing. A lot. The most common response I see is “17th”. But that’s just not how football works, is it? Without Harry Kane’s 30 goals last season Spurs would have been out in the cold too yeah? Except, they’re not. Without Kane’s 32 goals this season would Bayern be much further down the league? Without Haaland’s goals Man City would be 10th, yeah? Nope. Without salah’s goals Liverpool would have been outside the top 4 for the last 8 years. Nope.

Undeniably, Palmer is a beacon of light in a destitute and sometimes barren landscape of talent at Chelsea this season. But this argument/question is seemingly only asked of Chelsea. It’s just a bit stupid, really.

2) Jackson and Madueke need to be fined and dropped after the childish and frankly disrespect behaviour on the pitch last night around the penalty. Fair play to Gallagher (and, dare I say it, our Spurs manager) for stepping in and speaking up about it. Jackson just wants his goal bonus. Get him where it hurts – take some money and reduce his minutes. Show some backbone so these youngsters know that behaviour like that is simply not tolerated.

3) All of the above (and the fact “it’s only Everton”) served as a brilliant distraction from what can only be described as a superb performance by one Moises Caicedo. 6 tackles, 4 interceptions, 1 block, 1 key pass, 3 fouls won… heroic. It’s easy to miss what he does unless you watch the whole game. And he won’t get any headlines. But he was brilliant last night.
Ash, Kent (horrible feeling Arsenal will still win the league)


Isn’t Will Ford forgetting something?
Sorry to bring Will Ford down but it wasn’t all sunshine and roses for Chelsea this weekend. The women’s team suffered their first ever loss to Manchester United and went out of the FA Cup in what feels like the first time in forever.

A potential quadruple has quickly turned into a treble, into a double with a tie against Barcelona now looking particularly tricky.

But yes the men are on a decent run in mid table.
Ash Metcalfe


Heading for a ban?
There doesn’t seem to have been much comment about Raphael Varane’s musings about concussions. To paraphrase, he thinks his career will be cut short due to (possibly undiagnosed) concussions.

He said he does not allow his son to head the ball in training and would like it banned in matches as well. If memory serves, heading is banned in training up to under 16 in the US, Wales and Scotland. I banned heading practice with the U13 teams I help coach.

I think heading should be banned at all levels of the game, from children to professional. I would allow headers within the box; on goal, clearing corners etc but outside of the areas, banned. Indirect free kick for a deliberate header, no further sanction as it’s a legal part of the body with which to play the ball.

A ban would avoid a great many concussions, unnecessary head contact and injuries. It wouldn’t take long to get used to and would possibly improve the first touch of players.

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