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STATS: City and Chelsea Prove Success Isn’t Just Bought

For years, rival fans claimed that Manchester United “bought” their success. Unlike Liverpool, we took advantage of our big name globally, cashed in nicely on the Sky Sports money, exploited fans with regular new shirts and merchandise, so we had money to burn in the transfer market.

We broke the British transfer record in 1981 when we paid £1.5m to bring Bryan Robson from West Brom, two years after City broke the record to sign Steve Daley for £1.45m, who The Observer later called the “biggest waste of money in football history”.

Over the next four seasons our club broke the records again, this time for the fees paid to our club when we sold Ray Wilkins to AC Milan (£1.5m) and Mark Hughes to Barcelona (£2.3m).

United next broke the record in 1995 to bring Andy Cole from Newcastle to try and help us secure that third title on the bounce but we lost out to Blackburn on the final day of the season after failing to beat West Ham. The £7m we paid for him was superseded by Arsenal a few months later when they paid £7.5m for Denis Bergkamp and that same month, Liverpool paid £8.5m for Stan Collymore. The following summer Newcastle paid an incredible £15m for Alan Shearer after he shunned us, meaning we forked out just £1.5m for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer instead that same week.

After winning the unprecedented Treble, United meant business in the transfer market, signing Juan Sebastian Veron for £28m in the summer of 2001 and Rio Ferdinand for £29m the following year. Rio was money well spent whilst Veron was shoehorned in to arguably one of the best central midfields of all time, with Roy Keane and Paul Scholes, and never really worked. Thankfully, we made more than half our money back on him when Chelsea took him off our hands a couple of years later.

The transfer record was next broken by Chelsea in 2006 when they signed Andriy Shevchenko for £30.8m before City broke it two years later to bring Robinho from Real Madrid for £32.5m.

However, it’s obviously not just breaking transfer records which you need to look at, indicated most clearly by both City and Chelsea who have spent shedloads of cash over the past few seasons but have only broken the transfer record once each in this time.

This table proves better than anything anyone could say that money does not necessarily equal success. Of course, there’s no denying that money gives you a much better chance of being successful and in most situations, it will make you more successful than you would otherwise be without it, but spending lots of money does not guarantee success, certainly not on the scale that United have enjoyed over the past few decades at least. Per season, there’s next to no difference between the spending of Spurs and United, for example, but the difference between trophies won is obviously vast. Liverpool are the third biggest spenders in the Premier League years yet have never even won it!

In the past eight seasons, four clubs have a larger net spend than United, with Aston Villa less than £3m behind us, yet when we compare the success in this time it’s laughable. United have won four league titles, Chelsea have won three and Arsenal have won one. United have also won the Champions League, the FA Cup and three League Cups. Chelsea have also won three FA Cups and two League Cups. Arsenal have also won an FA Cup, as have Liverpool and City, whilst Tottenham have won the League Cup. Aston Villa, of course, have won nothing.

The teams are ranked in order of how much money they’ve spent but this money isn’t reflected by the success they’ve had, particularly where United are concerned.

After winning back to back titles in 2005 and 2006, Chelsea strengthened their squad with one of the best players in the world for three positions, in Ashley Cole, Michael Ballack and Andriy Shevchenko. In contrast, United just signed Carrick, despite selling top scorer, Ruud van Nistelrooy, and buying no replacement. It was United that won the league for the next three seasons though, as well as beating Chelsea in the European Cup final in 2008. If success can be bought, why did that happen?

Chelsea’s time as the biggest spenders has more or less come and gone, although they did spend more than City in the season just gone. However, with City now the biggest spenders, the most successful club has still been United. If they do win the league this season, as they are clear favourites to do, that will make it four Premier League title wins from the past five season. This table shows the net and total spend over the past five years.

So, to reiterate the point made earlier, money is needed to be successful, but it is just one of the many ingredients needed to win trophies. When you look at what United have that Chelsea and City don’t, like a brilliant manager who is a stable presence, as well as a constant stream of youth players in the first team squad who not only care more about the club but who also allow you to spend money elsewhere because they have no transfer fee, it illustrates clearly where our success comes from.

If you could buy success, Chelsea would have won the title every season since 2005, with City taking it off them last season and this. As it stands, we’re eight points clear at the top and likely to win back to back titles yet again.

Transfer fees taken from



  1. Clint-Iamyourpapii says:

    The problem with midfield is a long term one and can’t be solved overnight. We need to go back to days of having a good blend, at the moment the blend is there is their in terms of making up the numbers and reliability.

    Carrick is a passer not a Fletcher type. Scholes is the bomb but can’t play all games, this was the first league he missed and we cant depend on him for another era. Giggs is a man behind the two forwards and cant be asked of much in a two man midfield.
    Clevs is young and unproven still,Anderson :lol: Pogba :???:

    I don’t buy for a minute we have a poor midfield but in the big occasion or when forced back they do crumble because what’s meant to be instinctive, doesn’t happen for guys like Giggs,Clevs and Carrick. They are limited so work needs to be done to find a good blend.

    Look at 08′, we had Scholes,Hargreaves,Fletcher,Carrick,Anderson,Giggs….what a fucking great batch to have, perfection. We need major investment in a new one and to start some more faces so they learn. For 2012-13 we need Carrick,Fletcher, Giggs, Player X,Cleverley,Player X/Pogba/Scholes.

    We will win the league, but its going to be difiicult, one problem at a time please :lol:

  2. redbilly says:

    fletch- im not talkin about the myth. We may play ultra defensive at OT in a similar vein to the response after the back to back losses. SAF will adjust for the weekend. we were all over the place tonight but we are not the only team to do it .

  3. MG says:

    Anyway It’s time to bow out United

    We’ll go again

    OT here we come Sunday – 19

  4. Clint-Iamyourpapii says:



    Your a good egg !

  5. Clint-Iamyourpapii says:

    So lonely….Mr Lonely….I have nobody :cry:

  6. Clint-Iamyourpapii says:

    King Eric

    We need you.
    Hell, I need you.
    I’m a mess without you. I miss you so damn much! I miss being with you.
    I miss being near you.
    I miss your laugh!

  7. Clint-Iamyourpapii says:


    I miss your musk… When this all gets sorted out, I think you and me should get an apartment together!

  8. Clint-Iamyourpapii says:

    For whoever it may concern

    I know that one day Willie and I are gonna to get married on top of a mountain,

    and there’s going to be flutes playing and trombones and flowers and garlands of fresh herbs. And we will dance till the sun rises. And then our children will form a family band. And we will tour the countryside and you won’t be invited.

  9. Clint-Iamyourpapii says:

    Fletch -

    I’m not a baby, I am a man. A Man United Man

  10. Clint-Iamyourpapii says:

    RedMeg, Jason Park, Antiscouser, K9

    You are a smelly pirate hooker.

  11. Clint-Iamyourpapii says:

    Sweet Lincoln’s mullet….thats an awful lot of non sense

  12. MG says:



    I read that Papii

    I don’t think we need to get an apartment Papii, but hey if it keeps you happy ;)

    More so we should get our lightsabers out our Star Trek phasers and head for that elusive city bottle.

    Failing that we can always try to find out who made Mancini happy today the naughty naughty boys United!


    Night Papii you RED genius – till tomorrow which is technically today!



  13. Clint-Iamyourpapii says:

    I believe diversity is an old, old wooden ship that was used during the Civil War era.

  14. Clint-Iamyourpapii says:

    MG -

    I believe United have found the City Bottle at the DW stadium, we best stay clear, I hear Wigan Bottle it there often. “The dark side lies there, At the DW ”


    Laters Taters you feisty racoon ;) See you?……read you at Sunrise pal

  15. Clint-Iamyourpapii says:

    Named must your fear be, before banish it, you can

  16. Clint-Iamyourpapii says:

    Man City – Mancini “Its finished,over”

    Man Utd – SAF “Not if anything to say about it, I have”

    :lol: Always the hard way

  17. Clint-Iamyourpapii says:

    On the whole, Jones,Welbeck,Rafa,Fabio,Clevs debate…i’d like to add

    The dark side clouds everything. Impossible to see the future is.

  18. Clint-Iamyourpapii says:

    Mancini: “He’s suffered a defeat, yes, but… behind the walls of Carington , our enemy is regrouping. “

  19. Clint-Iamyourpapii says:

    Giggs: Is there any hope, Gaffer, for Wazza and Ron?
    SAF: There never was much hope. Just a fool’s hope.

  20. Clint-Iamyourpapii says:

    Sheik Makhtoub:

    The power of the enemy is growing. Ferguson will use his puppet Scholes to destroy the people of Stockport. Rooney has been unleashed. The Eye of Ferguson now turns to Giggs, the last free king of men. His war on this city will come swiftly. He senses the Cup is close. The strength of the Cup challenger is failing. In his heart, Mancini begins to understand. The quest will claim his life. You know this. You have foreseen it. It is the risk we all took. In the gathering dark, the will of the Cup grows strong. It works hard now to find its way back into the hands of United. United, who are so easily seduced by its power. The young captain of United has but to extend his hand, take the Cup for his own and the league will fall. It is close now, so close to achieving its goal. For Ferguson will have dominion over all life in this league, even unto the ending of the Premier league. The time of the Bitters is over. Do we leave Stockport to its fate? Do we let them stand alone?

    Paul Scholes:

    From the lowest dungeon to the highest peak I fought with the hands of time… Until at last I threw down my enemy and smote his ruin upon the mountain side… Darkness took me, and I strayed out of thought and time… The stars wheeled overhead, and every day was as long as a life age of the earth… But it was not the end. I felt life in me again.

    I’ve been sent back until my task is done.

  21. Clint-Iamyourpapii says:

    I’m awake, pig fingerers :D

  22. Clint-Iamyourpapii says:

    :lol: 1 man team now are we?

    These guys are better than Michael McIntyre.

  23. Clint-Iamyourpapii says:

    Kumbaya my lord, Kumbaya !

  24. MG says:



    Still on it you Star :D

    Sorry couldn’t get into it have been out all day long – back now Papii as the threads go marching on and on :lol:


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