Chris Lakey: Spend what you like, just don’t expect any guarantees

PUBLISHED: 11:37 09 August 2019 | UPDATED: 11:37 09 August 2019

Oli McBurnie coming up against Emi Buendia last season Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Oli McBurnie coming up against Emi Buendia last season Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Paul Chesterton

What goes up must come down.

Sam Byram was signed from West Ham... and City didn't have to break the bank Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images LtdSam Byram was signed from West Ham... and City didn't have to break the bank Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Norwich City, Sheffield United, Aston Villa - history says that applies to at least one of the promoted teams in the Premier League next season.

This particular idiom isn't so much to do with gravity and apples and Sir Isaac Newton. Its logic, among football observers, revolves around money, and the spending of.

Those in the know will claim it doesn't matter: after all, it didn't need a bundle of it last season for Norwich City to finish top of the Championship. But for others it is the answer to all their problems as they come up against a Premier League seemingly hell bent on spending as much as possible. The general view is that to stand any chance of being competitive, you have to spend, spend, spend.

Idiom number two: Throw enough money at (something) and it will work.

Not so.

Of the three teams promoted to the top flight, Norwich stand out like a bit of a sore thumb given they've spent only £750,000 on a permanent transfer (Sam Byram) while Sheffield United and Aston Villa have been writing cheques like they are going out of fashion. That three-quarters of a million is clearly not an accurate reflection on what City have forked out: free transfers and loan deals have a cost attached as well. Maybe £5m or £6m in all? Still comparatively small beer, but read on....

Villa fairly bristled at suggestions they were 'doing a Fulham' but given they have spent more than £100m, it's fair comment. What Dean Smith has had to do is replace players he has released, and replace loan players who formed the backbone of his play-off team winning season. Some have stayed - including Tyrone Mings. But when clubs know you have money to spend, then players like Mings cost you £15m.

It's all very well buying a 
player like Wesley Moraes, a 22-year-old forward from Club Brugge, but there's no guarantee that he'll be as good as another Wesley ...

And Douglas Luiz, a 21-year-old Brazilian signed for £15m from Manchester City, who never played him. He has barely set foot on a pitch in this country, but these are two young men who Villa hope will adapt to life over here.

Yes, City did the same when they brought in players from overseas, but Teemu Pukki, Marco Stiepermann, Christoph Zimmermann, Moritz Leitner and Mario Vrancic had a couple of miles on the clock and a bit more maturity.

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And what of Sheffield United? At the last count they have broken their transfer record four times since following City up last season. They paid Swansea £20m for Scotland striker Oli McBurnie. That's a lot of dosh for a player who has had one good scoring season.

Ok, it's not big spending compared to some of the clubs at the top end, but it's big compared to City's. Incidentally, it ought to be mentioned that Chris Wilder has also signed 36-year-old Phil Jagielka from Everton on a free, and the troubled Ravel Morrison from Ostersunds, also on a free. Make of those what you will.

Norwich City have ensured over the summer that their spending message has come across loud and clear. The future of the club is at stake, paying for the sins of others, said Daniel Farke. And faith in the players he has and the system he wants to employ.

It is as big a risk as it is signing players who come with a CV but no guarantee. So it is a bit of a no-brainer.

It may work, it may not. But that is where the spenders and the non-spenders are alike. No one knows quite how it will work out. The assumption is that buying quality players sorts it, but does it?

Some City fans will be less than impressed at the buying comparisons, but look back to this time last year and consider how you felt. Similarly, I suggest. And look what happened.

The rider is that the Premier League is clearly very, very different to the Championship and City are financially-challenged newcomers, not yo-yoing between the two.

It is a gamble. But not with the future. Just the present.


Where will City finish: 16th

Who will win the title? Liverpool

Which three teams will be relegated: Brighton, Southampton, Sheffield United

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