Can Success Be Bought?


After a stunning result in the most recent Manchester derby, debate among many football purists turned to the same question; can you buy success in football?

As I write, Manchester City are currently top of the Premier League by 5 points. Their goal difference is an impressive +26, they are yet to drop a point at home and they haven’t lost a game all season.

Even the bookies are starting to move Manchester City to favourites for the Premier League title. It would appear that the answer to my original question is simple. Yes.

By contrast, Leicester City, who also have ambitions of being top of their respective league are currently struggling in mid-table. Despite being favourites for the Championship title at the beginning of the season, Leicester are yet to record back to back wins, have just 19 points from their opening 13 games and are now without a manager after Sven-Goran Eriksson’s recent sacking.

By this evidence, in the Championship at least, you cannot simply buy a winning formula.

You may find the comparison between two such different clubs slightly comical, but forgetting for a moment the difference between Premier League and Championship football, there are similarities between these two situations. For instance, both clubs have been taken over by foreign billionaires, both have since spent vast amounts of money (in comparison to other clubs in their league) on transfer fees and wages and both are expecting success in the form of a top four finish in the league.

So, can you buy success in football? From a personal perspective, I sincerely hope it cannot.

While money gives clear and significant advantages in the pursuit of sporting glory, in sport, as in life, there are more important things. Determination and co-operation are just two qualities that every football fan wants to see in their team and neither can be bought. Cohesion amongst a team, amongst a coaching set up and with a manager, can be priceless in the quest for that trophy at the end of the season.

Manchester United are the prime example. Sir Alex Ferguson is arguably the greatest manager of all time, and the squad, which varies in strength, is always challenging for trophies in four different competitions. Ferguson rarely spends the big money of Manchester City, and yet, they are one of the most successful clubs in English history. For the moment, City have a long way to go.

Maybe in ten or fifteen years we will have a better answer to whether money can buy success. If Manchester win the league in consecutive years and Leicester reach the Premier League and more importantly stay there, then perhaps the answer is yes.

In the meantime, let us not forget how much money Chelsea spent when they were taken over back in 2003. They won nothing last year.


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