The Premier league: the net spend and wage argument – who is really overachieving and who is having a poor season?

There is a new trend that has emerged in recent times which I hate. It is a trend that gets bought up at the end of every transfer window with every top signing:

The need to discuss net spend and wages.

The amount of Net Spend that a club accrues, now seems to determine how ambitious a club is. And the amount of money players are being paid, often triggers debate by pundits and fans whether players and clubs are performing as they should. There are some, who think that Alexis Sanchez is failing at Utd because he hasn’t scored 10,000 goals to justify his huge wage.

For some pundits, money seems to be the only barometer to measuring success or failure. Football is about more than that, but it is sometimes forgotten about.

So, with nothing better to do on my commute to Edinburgh, I have decided to see where each club would rank if the league was determined purely on net spend and wages. I have then compared these results back to the current league table to determine if clubs’ performances are matching their spending.

Using Net figure spends from the last 5 seasons and wages from the end of last Summers’ window, I have been able to compile a table for each. For each position that a club finishes in the wage and net table leagues – I have assigned a total and added them together. This total then decides where the club is ranked on my new net spend and wage table.

For example City have the largest net spend so they earn a 1 in that table, they are then the 3rd biggest wage spenders. So in that table they earn a 3. Their total is 4. That’s easy to follow isn’t it???

I want this table to reveal who deserves more credit, who is struggling and whether clubs like West Ham and Arsenal have grounds to attack their respective boards.

Net spend table

1. Man City

2. Man Utd

3. Chelsea

4. Arsenal

5. Crystal Palace

6. Everton

7. Leicester

8. WBA

9. Watford

10. West Ham

11. Brighton

12. Bournemouth

13. Stoke

14. Liverpool

15. Newcastle

16. Huddersfield

17. Burnley

18. Tottenham

19. Swansea

20. Southampton

Wage table

1. Man Utd

2. Chelsea

3. Man City

4. Arsenal

5. Liverpool

6. Tottenham

7. Everton

8. West Ham

9. Southampton

10. Stoke

11. Swansea

12. Leicester

13. West Brom

14. Crystal Palace

15. Newcastle

16. Watford

17. Bournemouth

18. Burnley

19. Brighton

20. Huddersfield

OUR NEW NET SPEND AND WAGE TABLE with current table variation –

(clubs with symbols *,^,• next to their names scored the same totals, so positioning is determined by the amount they spend on wages. I feel these day to day costs are a better gauge than net spend).

1. Man Utd (+1)

2. Man City (-1)

3. Chelsea (+2)

4. Arsenal (+2)

5. Everton (+4)

6. West Ham (+10)

7. Liverpool* (-3)

8. Leicester* (0)

9. Crystal Palace* (+9)

10. West Brom^ (+10)

11. Stoke^ (+8)

12. Tottenham (-9)

13. Watford (-3)

14. Southampton• (+3)

15. Bournemouth• (-3)

16. Swansea• (-2)

17. Newcastle• (-4)

18. Brighton (-7)

19. Burnley (-12)

20. Huddersfield (-5)

The Results

Positions 1-6

Although Utd top our table, the trophies that Mourinho has returned will be keeping most Utd fans happy. Although they would like to be closer to City they appear to be comfortably the best of the rest.

Fans of Everton and West Ham, 5th and 6th in our table, will be concerned.

Despite the protests on Saturday, the table would suggest that West Ham’s board have clearly been backing their team which has seen them at 5th place in our table above the likes of Spurs and Liverpool but the stadium issue and lack of consistency is massively derailing them.

Everton in 6th, have spent a lot recently but despite this spending, the team still appears really unbalanced which will surely see the club dive into the market once again. I would be surprised if Allardyce was around at the start of next season.

A few years ago Chelsea would have probably topped this table. The 3rd position they find themselves in our table supports Conte’s arguments that he hasn’t been financially backed. However, they are only 2 places off where they should be in the current league table so perhaps their season isn’t as bad as many are perceiving it to be.

Arsenal fans can just laugh that another table has put them in 4th.

Positions 7-10

There is an argument to be had that despite Klopp’s criticisms he is over performing with his current squad. A finish in the top 4 has to be seen as a job well done. With the promise of more spending this summer, could next season be Liverpool’s year?

Leicester are the only team that match up with their current league position so well done to them.

The next two teams, Palace and WBA are currently in the bottom 3 , but our table suggests they should already be thinking about sitting on the beach with them at 9th and 10th. The recent upheaval at both clubs and poor recruitment suggests that if a side is unsettled it will take more than spending to get out of trouble. Look at Swansea as a prime example who spent next to nothing in the last window but have been inspired by the managers stunning use of the English language.

Positions 10-12

Completing the bottom half of our table are a lot of teams you would expect to be there. But there are some interesting footnotes.

Based on the positions of the net spend and wage table, Burnley are performing the best out of everybody. Currently 12 positions better than the 19th our table gives them – Burnley embody everything that I think has gone wrong with Palace and WBA.

A board that backs the manager to the hilt, a manager who buys players dedicated to the badge and the creation of a dressing room where team spirit and the team comes before egos. Compare the likes of Ashley Barnes and Ben Mee to Palace’s Benteke and WBA’s taxi gang…….

Another manager at the bottom of our table who has not been getting the recognition he deserves is Brighton’s Chris Hughton. (I know he just got manager of the month) Brighton are seven places better off in the table than our finance table would have them. With the likes of Dyche and Eddie Howe constantly being linked to perceived bigger clubs should Hughton also be bought into these conversations?

The table also reinforces what a good job Benitez is doing as they should be 17th. Survival with a few games to spare would reflect a good season.

David Wagner’s Huddersfield would be bottom of our league but currently find themselves in 15th  just a few wins from safety.  He is another manager who has done incredibly well this season.

It seems that Southampton’s insistence to sell their star players to Liverpool is catching up with them – but recent top half finishes in the last few seasons suggest they have been over performing quite dramatically. Although they currently find themselves 17th, our table only has them at 14th. Perhaps the sacking of Claude Puel was a little hasty??

Stoke have suffered due to an insistence on signing football manager 2008 wonderkids and moving away from a model that has served them so well in the past as they are 8 places worse off.

Spurs often labelled as ‘bottlers’ have been performing far above where the finances would have them finish. However it does question what they might have achieved if they had potentially invested a little more as the other key intangibles seem to be in place.

Apart from poor maths, I hope this table can provide a little dose of reality. Liverpool and Tottenham lose one game and they are labelled as bottlers when in actual fact results would indicate they are performing well without relying on huge funds to do so.

Clubs like Brighton, Burnley and Newcastle aren’t getting enough plaudits they deserve for strong seasons. West Brom and Palace have chucked money at it but haven’t got some of the other essentials in place and look like they might both be relegated.

Too often as fans we are too knee jerk in our reactions and if a side has a poor result or are struggling we blame lack of money as the main reason. What do West Ham fans want? Do they realistically believe that they should be competing for the top 4 or top 6? Isn’t premier league survival the main aim? West Ham have been spending and the board backing the team. Shouldn’t the players be getting a little more stick? Arsenal 4th in our table can look to blame the board, but is trying to overthrow the owner the answer? Would a more battle hardened attitude that other teams display result in Arsenal not losing 10 away matches this year?

Essentially, shouldn’t all clubs be a little bit more like Burnley?

24 wins out of 26, but is England’s sweet chariot in danger of losing a wheel?

Two consecutive 6 nations titles,  a clean sweep away against Australia and a possible 24 wins out of 26 matches – nobody can argue that Eddie Jones 2 year tenure as England coach hasn’t been successful.

But why does England’s trip to Paris this weekend feel like it is a must win match?

There has been a sense that Englands 6 nations campaign has provided more questions than answers.

Handed a comfortable start away against the Italians, England’s next matches against Wales and Scotland have produced scratchy, questionable performances suggesting that England’s sweet chariot is in danger of losing a wheel.

Goong into the Wales match the expectation was that England would comfortably outclass a patched up Welsh side – the result, a narrow victory where England were clearly hanging on. Without a very dubious decision from the TMO, England couldn’t have had too many complaints if they had emerged on the losing side.

Fast forward two weeks and a first half humbling against Scotland depicted an unravelling of a structured game plan and a defence that simply could not get to grips with Scotlands energy and chaos.

As an Englishman who calls Scotland his home – trust me there is no scalp that the Scots want more than a win over England. However England knew this.

As the game was quickly slipping away there didn’t seem to be any recognition of the way the game was going or an answer to the Scottish defence. England seemed jittery, unable to manage the pivotal situations and unable to cope with the boisterous Murrayfield crowd.

For the first time in the Jones era, England looked lost and poorly prepared.

The thing I love most about Eddie Jones is his personality and spiky attitude, I think he has made his England team embrace the “arrogance” label that is attached to the them by their 6 nation rivals.

Under Stuart Lancaster the impression was that England were too nice. They were a team that seeked public reapproval following a spate of controversies through the Martin Johnson era. They were a side that was too nice to win the big matches and overcome the big moments.

Jones’ England are different, they snarl, they bite and they swagger. Often embodying the very image that their rivals hate. However despite this, there is a sense that England are still very much a WIP.

As an ardent England fan I often find Englands lack of discipline frustrating. This years championship has seen England commit 32 penalties. Compare this to 30 by France, 13 by Ireland, 25 by Scotland and 18 by Wales. Through ill discipline, England are struggling to gain an advantage in the territory battle and put the squeeze on their opponents.

Rewind to the start of the second half at Murrayfield. England got the start they wanted through an Owen Farrell try but for the next twenty minutes they were often camped in their own half. Any forward progress quickly erased by silly errors, poor decision making and costly penalties. This wasn’t the England side we had become accustomed to watching.

There seems to be several issues hanging over the team.

Does Jones know his best centre partnership? Jonathan Joesph seems to be constantly in and out of the side and Ben Teo is still to produce a commanding performance that would see him shift his “finisher” tag.

Do England have a game changing back row? As Martin Johnson bluntly put it after the Scotland game. Games of test match rugby are won and lost at the breakdown.

John Barclay simply dominated the game line winning numerous turnovers. Do England have a player able to do this? Rewind to the 2015 World Cup and the work done by David Pocock and Michael Hooper. There furraging work was the foundation of their success. England at the moment don’t have the game changers to win the turnover battle.

Lastly, do England have the flair to produce moments of magic?

Englands dominance under Jones has come about through their ability to control rugby matches. The Italy game aside – England have struggled to assert consistent pressure on their opponents. It almost seems that every England game is planned and plotted by the minute. X substitution will be made at this minute, if less than 40 metres from the posts we kick for goal etc…. This is all well and good when England are on top and dominating, but as showed against the Scots a few weeks ago, when they are behind the 8 ball and losing control, this England side started to question themselves and seemed to lack ideas and a plan B to get back into the game.

Fast forward to this weekend and England probably couldn’t have wished to play anybody worse. France in the process of what seems like a countless rebuild will be a sticky prospect.

France will certainly feel like they can trouble England in front of what will be a vociferous Paris crowd. There unpredictability and formidable pack could cause England major headaches.

Remember France were only one swing of a Jonny Sexton boot away  from a memorable victory over Ireland and they will be after something similar when England rock into town.

England will be favourites and they should win. However like the Scotland game it is a lose lose situation. They are expected to win  but if they lose this will be the first time that Jones and his side will be under real scrutiny. World Cup success in 2019 will seem an uphill task.

With Ireland still to play who might be chasing a grand slam, this feels like a pivotal weekend if England are to keep their faint dreams of a 3rd 6 nations title alive and their World Cup preparations on course.

A defining match where Tottenham can’t afford to be the nearly men again

This Wednesday sees Spurs face Juventus in the second leg of their last 16 champions league tie. After a dominant display (the first 10 minutes aside) in Turin – many pundits and fans would expect Spurs to progress at Wembley.

Many pundits this week including Glen Hoddle have stated that Wednesdays game is a defining moment in the clubs history. Yes, Spurs have reached the quarterfinals in the UCL before but this Spurs team is different.

The Spurs  under Redknapp were a good side – but the feeling back then was that the good season they had was a bit of a one off. That side were viewed as top 4 contenders but they were still a little way off being viewed as genuine title contenders.

This side is different, the past two seasons have seen Spurs challenge for the league title, play champions league football consistently and challenge in the FA cup. Currently, in the league they are on a 17 match unbeaten run and are starting to look like the side many predicted could challenge for the title at the start of the season.

Despite Pochettino downplaying the need for a trophy – this spurs side has to start competing consistently for titles. In my lifetime this is the strongest Spurs team I have ever had the opportunity to watch – with world class talents such as Kane and Eriksen still to potentially reach their peak – Spurs fans know that in order to keep these talents, the titles need to follow.

If you had asked Spurs fans  at the start of the season what represented their best chances of silverware – the majority would have targeted domestic success. Only the most optimistic Spurs fan would have believed that Champions League glory was a realistic target.

Having been drawn in a group with Real Madrid and Dortmund the consensus was that Spurs would do extremely well to sneak into the second qualifying spot. However, the way they qualified by beating Dortmund home and away as well as the inspired 3-1 dispatching of Madrid, put Spurs firmly in the conversation as potential dark horses for this seasons champions league title.

Fast forward to the 15 minute mark in Turin and it had appeared  that Spurs Achilles heel had returned. Spurs were once again over awed by the occasion and seemed to shrink in the atmosphere. Panic had set into the Spurs side and after 15 minutes it looked like a case of how many they would lose by.

But instead what happened next surprised me and pundits alike.

Juventus thinking that the tie was already done, dropped deep and allowed Spurs to start playing. Dembele was majestic – Kane a constant threat and Eriksen  produced arguably his best performance in a Spurs shirt.

Spurs emerged with a 2-2 draw which was a result that flattered Juve and it felt that a corner had been turned. It was a performance loaded with maturity and heart and put the rest of Europe on notice.

Ar Wembley Spurs have a real opportunity to progress. If they can beat Juventus and add them to the prestigious names of sides that Spurs have already dispatched – why couldn’t this side have a chance of progressing further in the competition?

A kind draw could see Spurs face teams like Liverpool, Man Utd, Roma or Shakhtar or even Chelsea. Of course there are no easy games at this stage but these teams shouldn’t have Spurs quaking in their boots.

Wednesday will determine that Spurs are a side who can genuinely compete and potentially win trophies at the highest level or  it will be another moment where Spurs are the nearly men.