Money doesn’t guarantee success, it merely increases the likelihood of obtaining it. Football’s history books are littered with cases where significant investment has been frivolously squandered away, serving only to send a club spiralling out of control. But what about those blessed with the coupling of an astute chairman and experienced manager at the helm, would they benefit from a hefty deposit into the back balance, or are they be destined to repeat the same mistakes?
The two teams I have selected for consideration are Newcastle and Everton, as both clubs embody the level of achievement that can evolve from a careful and considered transfer policy. In recent times however, Newcastle have invited criticism for a promising-yet-uneventful transfer window with Everton essentially confirming they have to sell before they can buy. Surely the only way they can progress is if they attract financial capital from oversees?
Perhaps not, both Alan Pardew and David Moyes have endured the pitfalls of failed high-profile moves in the past and nowadays conduct an extensive analysis on a potential signing before they make a bid. Newcastle’s impressive scouting network – spearheaded by Tony Carr – has earned rave reviews after securing the previously unknown identities of Check Tiote and Yohann Cabaye, for relatively modest fees.
Moyes himself admits, “If it [football] is going to keep being money, money, money, something is going to go wrong in the future,” and considering the ailing fortunes of Portsmouth and Rangers it’s difficult to disagree. Of course Pompey won the FA Cup during their brief stint in the footballing heavens but I bet they’d gladly hand it back to restore financial security at the club.
For both clubs the next ‘big’ step is surely to break into the fabled top four, but just how realistic is such a target? Tottenham’s venture into the Champions League is looking more and more like an anomaly – despite essentially qualifying last year – especially with both Arsenal and Chelsea seemingly ready to return to their former heights. It may sound apathetic to disregard such a possibility but Moyes believes the game operates in cycles, and so they should be prepared to take advantage of the next big club to suffer a dip in form.
“Football goes in cycles. I think ours is close to coming around again.
“We have to hang on to the coat-tails of those above. Sometimes you have to persevere as a manager.” (Metro)
The challenge therefore isn’t always to acquire new signings but to keep those already in your ranks as content as possible. Newcastle striker Demba Ba has recently indicated his dismay at his part-time “role” at the club whereas the reports linking Marouane Fellaini to the exit at Goodison Park will continue to pick up speed as we near January. It’s frustrating for fans when the main priority shifts from looking ahead to starving off interest from other clubs but this is to be expected when clubs excel in the transfer market. There’s certainly a fine art to finding the right balance whereby a team continues to make signings that will improve the quality of squad without creating an unnecessary competition for places.
The Financial Fair Play regulations could prove pivotal to the fortunes of both clubs, who stand to flourish alongside Arsenal as a result of their long-term financial strategy. Pardew believes these new initiatives are arriving at just the right time as he looks to build on The Toon Army’s thoroughly deserved fifth-placed finish last season.
“We have a long-term plan in place at Newcastle which means that we don’t spend what we don’t have,” he said in the Sunday Mirror.
“The hope is that if the Financial Fair Play rules are fairly applied we will have a sound foundation in place on which to challenge all the other clubs.
“There is no doubt that until those rules are in place, we can’t compete with what the Champions League clubs are spending, and that increases the size of our challenge.
“Investment does not always guarantee you are going to improve the team. We have seen that down the years.
It remains to be seen how long both managers can continue to pull rabbits out of hats under such restrictive conditions. Failure to do so will inspire further unrest in the stands but if they continue to defy the odds then they themselves will attract interest from elsewhere. Moyes was heavily linked with a move to the vacant hotseat in North London last summer and has long been touted as Sir Alex Ferguson’s successor while Pardew has seen his reputation transformed since moving to Tyneside.
There will come a point where both managers will have achieved all they can with the resources available to them, the hope is that this will result in silverware or a table topping finish, but this looks increasingly unlikely if they are forced to live within their means.
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