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Patience and consistency

By Kieran Fitzgerald :  27/01/2008 :  Comments (8) :
A lot has been written in recent weeks about what it takes to break into the big four. The general theory seems to be that the only way to do it is to somehow get your hands on as much money as they have, but even this theory has holes in it.

If Abromovich leaves Chelsea and takes his cheque book with him, they're screwed. Liverpool get bought out in a blaze of glory but then suddenly find themselves saddled with potentially hundreds of millions of quid worth of debt. Newcastle, while obviously outside of the big four, show every season that money does in no way equal success.

In my view, there are a number of clubs that have copped onto the fact that they're not really going to get their hands on this money to begin with, let alone get to spend it wisely. Instead, clubs like Everton, Villa, Blackburn and Spurs have installed solid steady managers and then have settled in for the long haul. I know Ramos is new to Spurs but I think that a lot of what is good about Spurs since he took over is down to a lot of what Jol did in his time there. I think that this season the progress ourselves and Villa in particular have made has shown that clubs can reap the rewards of this. While Spurs have shown what being rash with sacking a long-term manager so early in a season can do. If you are prepared to be patient, and have a hard working consistent approach, you can make steady ground on the top four.

Take Liverpool for example. For all the money they have spent, they have barely hung on to fourth place some seasons. And only then because other clubs have fallen away. I think this season they could really be overtaken. I think fourth place is really up for grabs this year. If the club who succeeds them, takes the cash prize for finishing fourth and keeps playing the sensible game with it. Who know's where this would bring them next season?

Take Arsenal. They don't have huge sums of money and are very prone to either blowing very hot or very cold, literally from one season to the next. I think it has only been Wenger's Midas touch with signing unknown talent, and then gelling it together so quickly, that has kept them where they are. Of course I'm not saying they'll suddenly drop to mid-table but a manager leaving can sometime spark an exodus of players and this could really affect them for a couple of seasons.

Now I know people will say that this is all fantasy land stuff, but I really don't think so. The top four teams are really not as stable or as untouchable as they appear. Clubs like Everton and Villa, and even Spurs with their current run of form, are really showing this season how it can be done.

Reader Comments

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Michael Kenrick
1   Posted 28/01/2008 at 05:54:45

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Err... We just did. We are fourth. Liverpool are sixth. YES!!!
Terence Leong
2   Posted 28/01/2008 at 07:38:21

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The fact that we have the 3rd longest serving manager is testament to how stability can make or break a club. To me, Newcastle is an example of how instability robs itself of achieving more than what it is e.g. sacking Bobby Robson after two champions league finishes is being short-sighted. Yes, there is no way Newcastle can be compared to our heritage and history, but I think the passion of their fans can rival most clubs. Fanatical, not always rational, but then, who says that being a fan is about rationality?
To me, the challenge is holding onto the players who are obviously attracting the attention of the other clubs. Also, the patience of the fans and the board in terms of how fast we can close the gap between ourselves and the "top 3" or "top 4" (depending how Liverpool is going to sort itself out i the coming months). I’m confident - short of some crazy decision making - that we can stay ahead of Portsmouth, Man City, Aston Villa and Blackburn even in the near future, not just this year. I foresee these clubs to be the perennial challengers for Europe.
What will our fans say or do when the gap doesn’t close as quickly as we think it should?
Let’s face it, Man Utd and Arsenal will not self destruct in the short term. Chelsea might yet survive the Russian Roulette if they win the Champions League (not unlikely, given their tight team play - who won it in 2005?). I hope we won’t be like Spurs, who see two top 5 finishes as stagnation. The path to being a top contender is still some distance off. It would be crucial to win a cup in the next couple of seasons, or else we might forget about the winning mentality. Other than that, regular entry into the Champions League is key to instilling in players a winning belief, and importantly, bring in some money and publicity.
Jimmy Hoffa
3   Posted 28/01/2008 at 07:47:20

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South Africa and Nigeria is in the docks. So, our 3 stars may be back in time for the Spurs game.

Dan Pedersen
4   Posted 28/01/2008 at 08:25:08

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So if Liverpool keep Benites....Consitency...they might win the league you could argue.

But fair enough I get the point!
Gary Dos Santos
5   Posted 28/01/2008 at 08:30:24

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Kieran, I tend to agree with you on majority of points made, but Arsenal and Man Utd seem to have put great structures in place concerning their youth policies and scouting talents but Liverpool and Chelsea could crumble quite rapidly if the cheque books dry up. That is why Moyesie must keep on building youth empires and increase his scouting network because there are great players that are awaiting the chance. COYB
Graham Holliday
6   Posted 28/01/2008 at 13:13:57

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Jimmy - S.Africa don’t play their last group game til the day after the Spurs game, and I can’t see the Nigerian boys making it having played the day before either.

Also, Nigeria have to play Benin who they’re expected to beat, and if Ivory Coast beat Mali (again, entirely possible) that should be enough to see Nigeria through.

Don’t count your chickens and all that jazz.
Rupert Sullivan
7   Posted 28/01/2008 at 19:25:36

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Kieran, I think you have a point - I would mention however that Spurs have had 3 managers in 3 years and are not ’small’ spenders... they blow their money left right and centre (16m on a striker that rarely figures past the bench) having one of the largest squads in the league... and they have just bought Woodgate by all accounts.
Paul OHanlon
8   Posted 29/01/2008 at 12:28:03

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Can see what you’re saying, but your examples don’t stack up. You mentioned Villa and Spurs as clubs who have "copped onto the fact that they’re not really going to get their hands on this money to begin with", but Villa were bought out last year a very rich American investor and Spurs have been one of the biggest spenders in the Premier League over the past 3 yrs.

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