Money, it is often said, makes the world go around. That aphorism might or might not be entirely true, but one thing is for sure; it has most certainly turned Chelsea’s fortunes on its head.
From a club wallowing in debt and sliding precariously towards bankruptcy to one that now boasts a squad chock-full of superstars, Chelsea’s rise to prominence has been nothing if not meteoric. Much of this can be put down to Abramovich’s millions and the high-stakes game of Russian roulette he has put his money on.
Roman’s revolution meant that the stakes had just been raised, and most of the other big players at the table (read big clubs all over Europe) knew they could not match Chelsea’s newfound financial clout. Chelsea splashed the cash all over Europe like it was going out of fashion while other clubs looked on and cursed below their breath. Surely, a quick pinch would mean this dream (nightmare?) would come to an end?
Talk is cheap
This transfer window too has seen someone shake the money tree, only this time it’s not Chelsea. Manchester United’s sensational spending spree that saw them net Portuguese based starlets Anderson and Nani took a lot of surprise, but if it raised some eyebrows in the Chelsea camp, they certainly didn’t show it. Not until this priceless verbal salvo from Piet De Visser, Chelsea scout/mouthpiece found its way to the pages of the media.
“This boy is, as far as his skills are concerned, a super talent…but if you look at the European Championship in Portugal and the current tournament in the Netherlands – Nani has not shown any progress.
Therefore I think Manchester United have paid too much money for a player who has talent, but has not developed since last year.”
Now, if any club in England (bar Chelsea) had made such noises, it could have been shrugged off. But to see Chelsea cry foul only makes you laugh at the irony of it all. Fewer clubs in recent history have spent as much or as lavishly on players. To point out the inordinate excesses of others should then be heresy.
Two roads diverged in a wood…
Just as Chelsea’s approach to the game is in stark contrast to that of Manchester United, so too are their transfer policies. Chelsea craved instant success and to that end drafted in a slew of stars that could provide that instant gratification (pardon the inappropriate analogy). United took a contrarian approach and decided to invest in youth instead and nurture it, counting on the fact that the core of the team would grow together (Rooney, Ronaldo, Carrick, Vidic, and now Nani and Anderson).
The disparity in the ideology of these two heavyweights can be summed up quite simply; Kezman vs Van Nistelrooy, both of them goal-scoring phenoms in the Dutch League. That’s where the similarities begin and end. United took Ruud’s raw talent and elevated him into the pantheon of club legend and truly world-class striker. Kezman’s star has been on the wane ever since he headed over to Chelsea (and then out their doors in an unceremonious exit).
Undoubtedly, Manchester United have had their fair share of lemons and so has Chelsea, but for Chelsea to rack it up in such a short while definitely rankles. To then insinuate that United overspend on a particular player/s is (to trot out an aged cliché) to have the kettle calling the pot black.
Chelsea and their supporters should be the last to wax eloquent on this subject, and if they do so it is at the risk of great derision. So unless De Visser is scouting out a career change, he better stick to his job. For Manchester United, money has met mouth and whether the gamble pays off is anybody’s guess.
Until then, let the games (and subsequent mind-games) unfold.