Money In Football - The Hare Or The Tortoise
For fans of Aston Villa seeing James Milner unveiled at the end of August was possibly the best moment of the summer. A summer that saw eight players joining the club.
However only a matter of days after the Milner signing showed the clubs intent, Manchester City made a signing that shocked the footballing world. Real Madrid's Brazilian star Robinho made the decision to sign for the North West club and scupper any chance of joining 'Title Favourites' Chelsea. The signing was unveiled barely a few hours after the club announced they had been acquired by the Abu Dhabi United Group.
Man City are now being touted as favourites to not only break the top 4 but even mount a serious title challenge. Like Chelsea before them it would seem that they are hoping to buy the title.
Its now the fashion in the modern game to be owned by an unbelievably rich chairman, Abramovich, Abu Dhabi and others are out for success, and they want it NOW.
Meanwhile at Aston Villa, Randy Lerner with his comparably modest riches, is looking more long term. Lerner has steadily gone about building a strong infrastructure and laying the foundations to take the club up the league. During his two years at Villa Park, performances on the pitch have vastly improved taking the team from 16th to 6th, with Martin O'Neill at the helm, Lerner is content to let the football do the talking. As well as on the field he has improved the club of the field too, with improvements to the ground and training facilities there for all to see.
In a era where money seems to reign supreme, it is refreshing to see a board that is looking to the future and has a five year plan in place opposed to the attitude of some clubs that appear to be throwing money about and although they may well bring success in the short term, their boards will become...... bored.
Arsene Wenger is worried for the future of the 'Beautiful Game'.
In an interview with the BBC he told how he believes a strong infrastructure must be in place for the club to operate rather than relying on the spending of a wealthy owner.
'If you push that too far, there are no rules any more, Once you get to the prices mentioned in the media, where is the logic? There is too much destabilisation.'
Wenger admitted his concerns following Robinho's interview, in which he expressed his happiness at joining Chelsea, despite the fact he had actually joined Manchester City
He had this to say - 'What is worrying for me is that a player signs somewhere and then the next day he does not even know where he has signed. You cannot say that is a good trend. Football is not a supermarket, we have to all understand that.'
Real Madrid's handling of the Ronaldo saga also shocked Wenger.
'You cannot come out and say 'we pay £250,000-a-week to Ronaldo and £135million', when the player has a six-year contract with Manchester United,'
'It is not possible or acceptable. There is money in the game, and I take it in a positive way - but the football bodies have to make sure that money is ruled properly and used well for the ethics of the game.'
Wenger believes that players are forgetting what the game is about and instead making decisions based on how much money is in it for them.
'I always did fight for my whole life for the players to make as much money as possible, but you also have to respect what football is. It came out from the roots of the country through local communities who identified themselves with their team, and we have to be careful not to destroy that.'
So Manchester City, and Chelsea for that matter may well have the money to spend, but they are more concerned with the here and now than the future. However football is a marathon and not a sprint, while some clubs throw money around, the likes of Arsenal and Aston Villa adopt a cautious approach to the market and are instead thinking long term and looking to the future.
Is this the modern story of the Hare and the Tortoise?