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Premier League Betting: Why Manchester City will not finish 'best of the rest'...

Premier League RSS / / 09 July 2009 /

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The Betfair Contrarian is unimpressed by big spending City and chisels out seven reasons why that hallowed fifth place Premier League finish will prove beyond Mark Hughes' multi-millionaires.

As only four teams are ever allowed to challenge for the Premier League, the big prize for everyone else is to finish the season as the best of the also-rans and - if a club gets really lucky and catches the moon in its blue phase - potentially displace one of the Big Four by finishing fourth. As Manchester City are spending like a Big Four side, they have been installed as [2.5] favourites on Betfair to win the coveted "Best of the Rest" crown. However, spending heavily doesn't guarantee success.

City have never done it before
In the two seasons before the introduction of the Premier League, Manchester City established themselves as one of the top five sides in the country - finishing fifth in both 1990-91 and 1991-92, ending the latter campaign just 12 points behind champions Leeds. However, City haven't come close to replicating that success since Sky took control of football that summer and their best ever Premier League season came in 2004-05 when they finished eighth.

It's a closed shop
In the 14 seasons since Blackburn won the Premier League in 1994-95, only four teams have ended a campaign as the best-placed non-Big Four side - Newcastle, Leeds, Spurs and Everton - and over the last five years, that honour has been shared by an even more exclusive group: just Spurs and Everton.

Outspending the competition doesn't guarantee success
Manchester City may have greater resources than their rivals but they spent heavily last season without getting anywhere. Last summer City's net spend was approximately £62 million and they then splashed another £49 million in January only to finish 13 points behind Everton, whose own net spend was around the £3.5 million mark. Therefore, despite having spent over 31 times as much as the Toffees over the course of the season, they finished even further behind them than they did in 2007-08, when they trailed by ten points.

It wasn't just City who failed to bridge the gap with money
Mark Hughes' side wasn't the only one to comfortably outspend Everton without toppling them last season. Aston Villa spent over £41 million (net) last summer to try to eradicate the five-point gap between the Toffees and themselves in 2007-08 but still ended the season a point behind David Moyes's side. Likewise, Sunderland are estimated to have spent around £65 million since summer 2007 and they couldn't do any better than buy themselves a relegation fight.

If anyone can stop Everton, it's Spurs
Spurs ended last season on form that suggested they could regain the "best of the rest" title they won in 2005-06 and 2006-07. Over the last 16 games of the season they took 30 points - three more than Everton, eight more than City, 12 more than Villa and just one less than Arsenal. They averaged 1.63 points a league game under Harry Redknapp, which over the course of a season would equate to 62 points. That total would have been enough to achieve a top-five finish in three of the last six seasons and would have seen them finish just a point behind Everton last year.

They're acting sensibly for a change...
Spurs are often their own worst enemy - destroying momentum by adopting a revolving door transfer policy every summer. They were the third best team in the country over the final 15 games of the 2006-07 only to then unbalance the squad with a load of signings that Martin Jol didn't want. With Redknapp in charge, more of the same was expected - especially after January - however, this summer he has uncharacteristically adopted a patient approach similar to that of Moyes, planning minor tweaks to an already talented squad and waiting for the right player to become available rather than panic buying. He has said: "We're not going to rush in. I have spoken to the chairman and we've decided if we can't get players who will improve the team we're not going to bother."

...and Redknapp always finishes above City
There have been six occasions where Redknapp has completed a full top-flight campaign while Manchester City have also been in the division and he has finished above them every time. In addition, last season he left a Portsmouth side who were above City for rock bottom Spurs and still finished higher than them. His only two exceptions came in 2004-05 when he left a Portsmouth side competing with City in mid-table and resurfaced at relegation-battling Southampton and in 2005-06 when he returned to Pompey for another dogfight and ended the season just five points behind City.


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