New Aston Villa boss Alex McLeish has lashed out against the “super clubs” who are able to take any players they like from other clubs, given the financial backing and power behind them.
McCleish’s comments came about after five of England’s starting eleven against Wales on Tuesday were former Villa players, and with the exception of Gary Cahill, now all play for the ‘super clubs’ who have the financial muscle to lure players away.
The likes of Ashley Young who recently signed for Manchester United, Steward Dowining of Liverpool, and both Gareth Barry and James Milner of Manchester Cityall lined up to face Wales at Wembley, and the Scot insists that these departures emphasise how difficult it is for the other clubs to compete in the long run. According to McLeish, these ‘super’ clubs “are on another planet”.
The Villa boss was keen to reaffirm that the club were not a ‘selling club’, but that fans needed to be realistic in these ‘modern times’. McLeish aim then, is to continue to produce talent at Villa Park that is good enough to break in to the national team. Villa currently boast young English talent in the likes ofMarc Albrighton, Ciaran Clark, and Barry Bannan, and while McLeish concedes that ultimately a ‘super club’ may come in and buy them, it is important for the club to continue to produce such talent.
Although McLeish’s comments do hold some substance, and it is without question going to be difficult for the ‘smaller clubs’ to compete alongside the likes of Chelsea, United, City and Liverpool, there are one or two exceptions to the generalizations been made, in that a ‘rich’ or wealthy club does not necessarily entail any ‘superiority’, and as we saw with Tottenham two seasons ago, clubs without this kind of financial backing can still break in to the top four of the Premier League.
In the 2009-10 season, Tottenham secured Champions League football for the following season, having pipped big-spending Manchester City to fourth place in the final games of the season. This was the campaign in which City had brought in the likes of Gareth Barry, Roque Santa Cruz, Kolo Toure, Joleon Lescott, Emmanuel Adebayor, and Carlos Tevez in a bid to break in to the top four, while the only players of note that Spurs brought in were Peter Crouch, Niko Kranjcar and Younes Kaboul Spurs finished the season three points clear of City, and enjoyed a successful run in the Champions League the following year before losing to Real Madrid in the quarter-finals.
City’s solution the following year was to invest heavily once more, and this time it was to pay off as Spurs struggled to mount challenges on both a European and domestic front, and finished the season in fifth. Spurs’ qualification for the Champions League went some way in showing that money did not guarantee success, especially not immediately anyway.