An analysis of the money spent on player wages compared to a club’s position in the Premier League demonstrates how Everton and Manchester United ‘have had their pants pulled down’ in the transfer market, say analysts.
Wage spending is generally an accurate predictor of final league position, but in any season, or in a run of seasons, some clubs underperform, while others exceed expectations.
This term, Everton and Manchester United are among those clubs who stand out as serious under performers, suggesting poor recruitment and management.
Manchester United are accused of ‘having their pants pulled down’ in the transfer market
Everton avoided relegation by the skin of their teeth this season, despite spending half a billion pounds in the transfer market since 2016, while Manchester United just about held on to a Europa League place, but have been even more profligate with £ 1.3 billion spent over 10 years.
Neither club has a great deal to show for their eye-watering outlays. This season Everton finished 16th, compared to their eighth position in the wage ranking, spending £ 183M on pay, based on the most recent accounts.
Manchester United finished sixth in the league table, despite ranking third for spending on wages of £ 323M in the 2021 accounts.
‘United and Everton have had their pants pulled down routinely,’ Dr Rob Wilson told Sportsmail.
In addition to haphazard recruitment, it is claimed their tactics have been confused
‘Manchester United is one of the world’s biggest clubs and has gone around shouting about what they can do in the transfer market and that puts additional costs on prices and wages.
‘And Everton had delusions of grandeur. They went out to the market very aggressively and the market said, ‘you can pay more’. ‘
Analysts point to a lack of coherence in both clubs’ transfer strategies, which has inflated their wage bills and simultaneously undermined their performance on the pitch.
At Manchester United, they highlight Fred, who has been used as a holding midfield player at Old Trafford, but there have been questions about his ability to deliver in that position, which he did not play for his former side, Shakhtar Donetsk, prior to a £ 52M move.
Everton’s Dele Alli one of the Everton players brought butt club is accused of a lack coherence
Questions have also been asked about the strategy that underpinned a host of other high profile players, including Paul Pogba, Ronaldo and Jadon Sancho, as well as the tactics the team has employed.
Similarly, Everton’s signings have appeared haphazard. Most recently, in January, they brought in five players, including Nathan Patterson from Rangers, Dele Alli from Spurs and Donny van de Beek on loan from Manchester United, but who have hardly featured prominently.
‘At Everton it is a lack of coherence,’ said Kieran Maguire and football finance analyst at the University of Liverpool and host of the Price of Football podcast.
‘A new owner has come in and effectively given a series of managers and sporting directors a blank check book and they have got greedy
Everton fans have vented their frustration with increasing vehemence during this season, until the situation became so perilous they realized they had to suspend their disappointment and simply help the players and Frank Lampard survive in the Premier League, which was achieved with one game to spare.
‘At United, the table is indicative of a club driven by a commercial department rather than a football department.’
Everton fans have played a huge role in keeping their team in the Premier League this season
In contrast, Brighton and Brentford are at the top end of the value for money table and it appears they have benefited from a data driven approach to recruitment.
Both are owned by professional gamblers, Matthew Benham and Tony Bloom, who have made full use of analytics.
In addition, their coaches, Graham Potter and Thomas Frank, have created a positive environment and added an x-factor in talented players other clubs may not have looked at based on what the performance numbers tell them.
‘They have bought players with potential,’ said Dr Wilson. ‘They have brough in talent that was not favored.
‘They have not played in the markets others are in because that is when the price goes up.’
Brentford are credited with excellent recruitment enhanced by Christian Eriksen
Brighton, in particular, have unearthed some gems, which has powered them to ‘They ninth, their highest Premier League finish.
Marc Cucurella, bought for £ 15M from Getafe last summer has been a revelation rampaging up and down Brighton’s left flank and will fetch at least twice his fee if he is sold. Similarly, Mali international Yves Bissouma, bought from Lille for a similar figure, has been a key part of the Seagulls’ development into a force in the Premier League.
Meanwhile, Brentford built a reliable, hardworking team, but recognized mid-season they needed additional quality to realize its true potential and threw in an x-factor.
‘They took a calculated risk on Christian Eriksen. They brought him in and unlocks the team, ‘added Dr Wilson.
Manchester United’s players have sometimes appeared confused about the system
The key has been to recruit against a plan.
West Ham also come out of the analysis as an over achieving club, finishing seventh in the league and claiming a Europa Conference League place, when their wage position is 12th.
‘There you have to give credit to David Moyes,’ reflected Maguire. ‘He has got a lot out of that squad. But West Ham have also recruited well in unfamiliar markets. ‘
West Ham’s Czech contingent, Vladimir Coufal, Tomas Soucek and Alex Kral, on loan from Spartak Moscow, shows go to places other Premier League teams fail to reach, but one might also throw in Jarrod Bowen, who was signed from Hull City in January 2020 and has been a critical factor in this year success.
While there are outliers in the analysis, over time Premier League clubs tend line up according to wage expenditure, so if a club has huge revenues, it will enjoy more success over time. Hence, the enduring domination of the Big Six.
Marc Cucurella, bought for £ 15M from Getafe last summer has been a revelation at Brighton
This season, the champions and the three relegated clubs got what they paid for. Manchester City won the league and were the biggest spenders, while with the exception of Brentford, Norwich, Watford and Burnley are the lowest payers in the top flight and they all went down.
The median wage – the midpoint in the spread of clubs – in the analysis is £ 135M. The biggest spenders, Manchester City have wage bill more than 2.5 times that figure.
Overall, wages have increased dramatically since the Premier League was launched in 1992.
In the first year of the competition, the average wage bill was £ 5.3M, in 2002 it had risen to £ 89.4M and it is now at £ 171.1M.