Before the debate of Chelsea or City’s money was brought to the Premiership, jealous fans of other teams used to talk of Manchester United ‘buying’ success.

As City and Chelsea have kindly proven for us since then, having a load of money isn’t the be all and end all to success. There are several elements you need to create a dominating club and whilst money is essential, so is the guidance of a skilled manager, the dedication of a talented squad, and that little bit of luck that always seems to go hand in hand with successful teams.

According to Transfer League, United have spent £419,350,000 since the Premiership began, City have spent £486,110,000 and Chelsea have spent £563,340,000, yet neither of the biggest spenders have, as yet, bought the dominance we’ve seen from United over the past couple of decades, and Liverpool before that. Looking at spending over the history of the Premiership, as well as since Roman Abramovich’s arrival at Chelsea, gives us an indication of how much we’ve been spending in relation to others. I’ve even taken these stats and pretended Cristiano Ronaldo never existed, to prove that it’s not just because of the masses of money we collected for him from Real Madrid that puts us in such a strong financial position, in terms of transfers.

However, the problem with just looking at transfer fees is that obviously prices have gone up and up and up. Towards the end of last summer, the world transfer record fee was set at £80m for Cristiano Ronaldo. Ten years earlier, the record was broken by Inter Milan when signing Christian Vieri for £32m, which obviously indicates how rapidly prices have risen in football.

So, I’ve taken a look at several squads from over the years, starting off with United’s Champions League winning team in 1999, then our Champions League winning team of 2008 alongside Chelsea’s team for that final, before looking at the players who lined up against each other in the League Cup semi-final last season between United and City. Not only have I looked at the total cost of these teams and average cost of the player, but how expensive the players are in relationship to the British transfer record fee and world transfer record fee.

Manchester United’s Champions League winning team in 1999

Manchester United’s Champions League winning team in 2008

Chelsea’s Champions League finalist team in 2008

Manchester United’s League Cup semi-final team in 2010

Manchester City’s League Cup semi-final team in 2010

Conclusions

– The money United were spending, proportionally, increased between 1999 and 2008, with the average cost of our players becoming more in line with the British transfer record and world transfer record, from 20%-31% and 14%-21% respectively.

– The spending gone in to United’s 2010 squad is more in line with our squad of 1999.

– United’s Champions League winning team of 2008 cost £45.11m less than our opponents Chelsea. The average cost of a player in our squad was £9.5m in comparison to the average cost of £12m per Chelsea player.

– A player in United’s 2008 squad was on average worth 31% of the BTR fee in comparison to Chelsea’s 2008 squad, where a player was on average worth 40% of the BTR fee.

– United’s League Cup semi-final winning team of 2010 cost £35.65m less than our opponents City. The average cost of a player in our squad was £5.6m in comparison to the average cost of £7.6m per City player.

– A player in United’s 2010 squad was on average worth 18% of the BTR fee in comparison to City’s 2010 squad, where a player was on average worth 23% of the BTR fee.