Unsurprisingly, Manchester City have been the busiest team in the Premier League when it comes to signings this summer: Stevan Jovetic, Alvaro Negredo, Fernandinho and Jesus Navas, spending a total of £97.7 million. This has teams up in arms and probably a little bit jealous, even a club like Chelsea, forgetting what it was that really made them so successful over the last 10 years.
It’s easy to forget, but Chelsea spent £151.5 million in the summer of 2003, the first of the Roman Abramovich reign, on Scott Parker, Claude Makelele, Hernan Crespo, Joe Cole, Adrian Mutu, Wayne Bridge, Damien Duff, Juan Sebastian Veron, Geremi, Glen Johnson and Aleksey Smertin.
Next season, as Jose Mourinho arrived? £142.4 million. Who? Jiri Jarosik (really, who?!), Ricardo Carvalho, Didier Drogba, Paulo Ferreira, Arjen Robben, Petr Cech, Tiago, Alex and Mateja Kezman. In 2005, things did change, as the nearly £300 million spent on trail & error helped build a foundation for the future. “Only” £80.7 million used this time, with Michael Essien, Lassana Diarra, Shaun Wright-Phillips, Asier Del Horno and Slobodan Rajkovic arriving.
The spending didn’t stop there, but you get the point. That is what makes Petr Cech’s interview and comments so weird. I guess 10 years is a long time to remember, but Chelsea were another club that didn’t seem to really threaten Manchester United and Arsenal until someone decided to change the rules.
Money has never won anything. You can spend as much as you want but you must build a team first. Yes, City have huge competition for every place. They have a new manager, new expectations and new motivations. And if they build a team they will be a tough opponent and rival for us in the Champions League and for the Premier League title. But so will Manchester United. So will Arsenal, Tottenham and Liverpool.
Chelsea changed overnight, becoming champions in 2005 and 2006. The success in Europe and the league title in 2010 might be attributed to some of the moves made five, six and seven years earlier, but money does buy success. Manchester City finished third in 2011, won the championship in 2012 and finished second last season. It’s fair to say they’ve been successful, at least on the local stage, in building a team that is a threat at the title at all times.
Obviously, bringing in four new expensive player calls for some overhaul, but that’s nothing new for the team that probably stood its ground last season when it shouldn’t have. City don’t have the history of United or even Chelsea. Money is their only way of competing with big clubs until they find themselves in a position like Chelsea: Of a team completely transformed, turning itself into one of the most successful and valuable in the world, and not just due to owner’s money. But it begins with spending, and City are in that same stage Chelsea were not too long ago.