FOOTBALL is now firmly established as big, big business, but where it differs from other global entities is in its major commodity, which, of course, is centred on people!
But the certainty that comes with, for example, machinery, doesn’t exist when it comes to human beings.
When dealing with people, one is dealing with ‘potential’ which may or, indeed, may not be realised.
Manchester United have just paid in excess of £37 million for Juan Mata - a record fee for the club - but the decision to sign the Spanish international could turn out to be either an inspired purchase or a complete disaster.
I’m sure you will remember Chelsea paying out another record fee of £50 million for Fernando Torres- an investment which brought a return of less than 20 goals in over 80 league games!
However, following the recent return to Stamford Bridge of Jose Mourinho, there have been glimpses of the “old” Torres but that was nowhere near what had been expected when such an exorbitant fee was paid for the Spaniard.
The list goes on - Aston Villa spent £24 million when purchasing Darren Bent who was, we were reliably informed, a proven goal-scorer. Interesting then to note that Bent is now plying his trade at Fulham (and not in the first XI) as the Villa owner must now deal with a huge hole in his pocket.
And even a highly respected footballing legend such as Kenny Dalglish can also get it horribly wrong as was evidenced when he agreed to pay £35 million to Newcastle United to land the services of Andy Carroll on the back of the Torres transfer to Chelsea.
The towering striker moved on to represent West Ham United for a fee of £17 million a year or so later having failed to impress the powers that be at Anfield.
More recently, some nonperforming “big buys” actually cost former Spurs boss, Andre Villas-Boas, his job with the “pick of them probably being the £32 million purchase of Erik Lamela.
Pantomime villian and Cardiff City owner, Vincent Tan, also quoted the £11 million paid for striker, Gary Medel, as one of the reasons for Malky Mackay’s controversial removal from the hotseat at the Welsh club not so long ago.
In fact, I could fill pages and pages with more examples but I think you get the point.
As I’ve already said, very little is certain when it comes to human beings and even big money buys will always arrive with a health warning.