Much has been said about the financial outlay made by English Premier League clubs. Spending big is one thing but getting value on what have been substantial investments in human footballing capital is another. Just how successful have the top six clubs been in the transfer market?

With the exception of Arsène Wenger, wins per million stats are almost directly comparable for the current top six. Pochettino leads, gaining almost four wins per million spent. However, this has not translated into an improved league position or points for Tottenham. Jose Mourinho and Brendan Rodgers follow largely due to favourable net spend numbers compared to the gross amount.

Unsurprisingly, the Manchester managers have been least efficient according to this measure, spending big in the last three windows for different reasons. Louis van Gaal has had the burden of continuing the rebuilding of United after inheriting a broken squad. Nevertheless, his wins have cost a pretty penny. Pellegrini has the comfort of virtually unlimited funds and he has not been shy to use it.

Inflation Unadjusted wins at current clubs in most recent stint, current top six managers (all figures in £)


How effective has the spending been in improving the point tallies and league positions of these clubs? Brendan Rodgers, the recipient of all manners of criticism since his taking over at Liverpool, has gained 17 points on average over the 52 gained by Kenny Dalglish in his forgettable final season in charge and translates to an average of fifth in the league. Not bad. Next comes Mourinho who benefits from having succeeded Rafa Benitez after he himself had succeeded Roberto Di Matteo mid-season. All except Pochettino have improved on their predecessor’s points totals.

Pellegrini has paid the most for each point improvement; each average point gained has cost a staggering £57.8 million. In the last three seasons, Wenger fares worse than expected while Van Gaal follows with £17.4 million spent on a net basis for each of his six points gained. Rodgers again comes out on top. Thank you Suarez and Sturridge…is what he should say.

Points and Position changes Adjusted for Net Spend, last three seasons that apply (all figures in £)


A sample of recent managers shows a comparison of net spend per season. With the exception of Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger, the rest are more or less directly comparable. Standouts are the last four Manchester club managers who occupy the first four spots. Unsurprisingly Mourinho comes next, and if this were done on an inflation adjusted gross spend basis, he would probably run Pellegrini and Van Gaal closer for both his two stints at Chelsea. Thank you, loan and sell policy…is what he should say.

Spurs managers fare the best here after benefitting from clear outs and the sale of players like Luka Modric and Gareth Bale to Real Madrid.

Ranking Net Spend per season Unadjusted for Inflation (all figures in £)


Finally, the last five season comparison of net spend figures shows the top five occupied by five of the top six clubs which perhaps shows the importance of financial clout. Of course, success breeds success so the biggest clubs will always spend more all things remaining equal. Spurs, more surprisingly this time, are last (or first) with a negative net spend. This is a likely indicator of how many failed transfers they have had and the massive receipts on the Gareth Bale sale in particular.

Net Spend last five seasons (all figures in £)


Ultimately the most crude but truest indicator of the success of transfers is trophies when we discuss the top teams and this makes for an interesting comparison. Since 2010/11, Chelsea has been the most successful English top flight club winning five trophies, the same as Manchester City. These trophies include the UEFA Champions league and UEFA Europa league which trumps City’s haul. United follow with four trophies won over this period, inclusive of two Premier league titles, their veritable bread and butter.

Chelsea has built upon years of significant investment which has left them with a solid base with which to consolidate themselves into the top English team. City is on a similar path but its transformation is a few years behind. The next step is perhaps success in Europe. United have fallen slightly behind and the fact that its last FA Cup triumph was in 2003/04 remains a major sore point. Nevertheless, it remains a force. Speaking of FA Cups, Arsenal has scooped up two in succession ending years of title frustration. Between Liverpool and Spurs are one League Cup but it is arguable that Spurs are the more prudently run club. Liverpool’s investments don’t match their successes but the road back from a 52 point season is longer than most seem to realise.

Make of it what you may but the money clubs rule England, one Manchester club has been more successful of late, and Arsenal is winning somewhat lesser trophies on the cheap. It depends on your perspective as to whether indeed Arsenal, Chelsea, or City is getting the most bang for their buck.