Liverpool’s European success is the stone in Pep Guardiola’s shoe

The purchase of the English title is nothing new.

Jack Walker bought him with Blackburn Rovers long before Roman Abramovich did with Chelsea and Sheikh Mansour with Manchester City.

No one would be surprised, given his deep pockets, if Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman did it with Newcastle United too.

City fans have adopted a siege mentality, particularly against those who scoff at their ‘new money‘.


These sneers often come from neighbours, from United, or from the end of the street in Liverpool.

But didn’t Manchester United get to the top by spending, and spending big?

In 1993, United became champions for the first time in 26 years – and the foundation of that team was laid with the signing of five England internationals.

Neil Webb, Mike Phelan, Danny Wallace, Paul Ince and Gary Pallister arrived at Old Trafford, and the spending spree didn’t sit well with some.

An English newspaper said that ”United are blatantly trying to buy the title that has eluded them for years”.

The criticism was not well received by manager Alex Ferguson. “I don’t like this ‘Moneybags Fergie’ idea,” he barked at reporters.

game changer

Arsene Wenger at Arsenal was perhaps the biggest game-changer of the Premier League era.

Prior to Wenger, little attention was paid to nutrition, sports science, attention to detail, and training ground facilities.

Wenger paved the way for Jose Mourinho, Rafa Benitez, Carlo Ancelotti, Jurgen Klopp, Pep Guardiola and Antonio Conte.

His first Premier League victory in 1998 owes much to a core of veteran players he inherited and his own coaching talent.

LONDON, ENGLAND – MAY 17: Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger with the League trophy during the bus parade after winning the League and Cup double on May 17, 1998 in London, England. (Professional Sport Photo/Popperfoto via Getty Images/Getty Images)

We can’t ignore the fact, however, that high spending was also a big factor.

In previous seasons, David Platt, Dennis Bergkamp, ​​Emmanuel Petit, Patrick Vieira and Marc Overmars arrived for what was big at the time.

When they won that title in 1998, Arsenal had the most expensive squad in the top flight.

Given their success over the decades, it’s odd that Liverpool have only broken the UK transfer record once – when they signed Stan Collymore from Nottingham Forest in 1995.

Big spenders

But factor in salaries and agent fees, and Liverpool have often been big spenders.

And it’s easy to forget how many times they’ve been accused in the past of trying to buy success.

For example, a few months after the 1994 World Cup, Irish defender Phil Babb was signed for £3.6 million, a then British record for a defender.

The following day, another centre-half, John Scales, arrived for a fee of £3.5m.

Guardiola’s interview on Sunday after City hammered Newcastle was a hit due to his digs at rivals Liverpool.

“Everyone in this country supports Liverpool, the media and everyone,” he said.

“Of course, because Liverpool have an incredible history in European competition, not in the Premier League – won one in 30 years.”

Does anyone else think his words were rooted in City falling short in the Champions League yet again?

Guardiola was brought to Bayern Munich to deliver the Champions League. He failed.

He was also brought to City to win the big bucks. He had six attempts with City and failed each time.

Champions League

Watching Liverpool prepare for a third Champions League final in four years clearly bothers him.

You can buy the Premier League – or the old Premier League title – but it’s very difficult to buy the biggest prize in club football.

Paris Saint-Germain have also splashed the cash like they’re out of style but have only one losing final appearance to show for their efforts.

The Abramovich project at Chelsea was for an eighth manager in Roberto Di Matteo ahead of the Champions League delivery.

With the European Cup, old money often prevails – and Liverpool v Real Madrid is one of the ultimate old money finals.

City will likely get the better of the Reds in England again, but Liverpool are the stone in Guardiola’s shoe.

They have become accustomed to excelling in the competition he covets above all else.

He will have fun if Liverpool win in Paris…

About Ryan Headley

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