Why Team Investment Doesn’t Always Mean Success

Why Team Investment Doesn’t Always Mean Success

While it’s true that the most successful clubs are often those that have the biggest budgets, it would be a mistake to believe that a team could buy their way to an unbeatable team. The top players command millions when they are at their peak, but all those players were once undiscovered and playing for smaller local teams.

When you consider the number of things that can happen during a football match, it’s impossible to predict the outcome with complete accuracy even when it seems like a foregone conclusion. Even a previously hugely successful team can have an off day, such as the crushing defeat of Brazil by Germany in the 2014 World Cup.

Teams with big budgets may enjoy a number of advantages over smaller teams, but as the footballing industry grows, there are plenty of teams that can afford the best of everything for their players. This creates a degree of competition that has seen some astronomical purchase prices for the most talented players, but there are so many variables that simply cannot be eliminated no matter how much money you have.

There are also some teams that have learnt the hard way that you cannot spend your way to success, such as:


When Chelsea were two goals up in the FA Cup final in 2015 against Bradford. They must have thought they had the underdog team on the ropes. So imagine the feeling, both on the pitch and among the fans, as Bradford not only equalized but then scored a further two goals while the Chelsea team simply didn’t live up to their early promise.

The Bradford team were forty-nine places behind Chelsea when this match took place, and their team cost nearly £200 million less than the array of talent that Chelsea fielded. To add insult to injury, it was a home match for Chelsea, so there were plenty of disappointed fans that day.

Manchester City

As the oldest national football tournament, the FA Cup has seen its share of unexpected results, but some have gone down in history, and the 2013 final was just such an event. The fact that Wigan was in the final at all was a testament to the stellar performance of the team who saw off a range of opponents: Bournemouth, Macclesfield Town, Huddersfield Town, Everton, and Millwall.

After eighty-one years without a win, Wigan subverted expectations when they beat Manchester City one-nil in the ninetieth minute of the match at Wembley Stadium. A corner kick and a well-aimed header saw a no-score draw turn into a truly shocking win for Wigan in the blink of an eye, and fans who had placed bets on new online betting sites on the underdogs were delighted to suddenly become winners.

Although the clubs are close geographically, Wigan and Manchester City couldn’t be further apart when it comes to their budgets for the teams, they fielded that day. Wigan put together the winning team for less than £30 million, beating a side that cost more than ten times that and City were several places ahead of them in the league while Wigan faced relegation.


It may not have been an official match played as part of one of the better-known contests, but in 1982, a national team from Lichtenstein beat one from China. While this small and insignificant win may not have made headlines, it represents the triumph of hard work and good luck over investment.

With a population of more than one billion at the time, the resources, talent pool, and budget available to the Chinese team would have been significantly more than that of Lichtenstein, with its residents numbering just over twenty-six thousand at the time. The match was played in Vaduz, but even with the home advantage, Lichtenstein’s win was an impressive feat.

How can smaller teams win?

A football match can be won or lost on any one of millions of events happening on the pitch, but teams with larger budgets do tend to perform better on the pitch. Not only can they afford the best players in the world, but talented players that make a name for themselves playing in teams lower down the rankings are often poached by more popular clubs.

There are revolutionary managers who are turning their budgetary restrictions to their advantage by capitalizing on what the smaller teams can do best. Teams that can’t afford expensive trainers and personal chefs are using their heads and making the most of the data available to them to get ahead.

Brentford football team are seeing the benefits of this approach since they were bought by a professional gambler who believed he could use data analysis to succeed on the football circuit. Brentford’s recent success, being promoted from the Championship to the Premier League, suggests that there is merit to this approach.

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