Date: 11th February 2014 at 10:21am
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The uncomfortable annual reality check that is the Deloittes report on football revenues has been published. It shows we are the 14th club in Europe, with only a third of the income of the number 1, Real Madrid.

More importantly it shows we are 6th among English clubs, with even Liverpool in 5th having 40% more income. To me this has implications for the type of manager we need. To try and explain what I mean lets look at a current pretender; Louis Van Gaal.

Van Gaal started in management in 1991 with Ajax and has since managed Barcelona, Bayern, AZ and the Dutch national side. It looks an impressive resume and he has won things at every club, so what’s the problem? In Germany and Spain Louis has won league titles with clubs that expect to win league titles, the big teams with resources to match. Arguably his most impressive achievement was in 1995, almost 20 years ago, when he won the Champions league with Ajax. But this was the end of the era when Dutch football was punching way above its weight, when the Dutch stars were still playing in Holland and mostly for Ajax.

You could argue that Van Gaal leaving for Spain in 1997 marked the end of that era, certainly when he returned to Holland to manage AZ in 2005 he could make no impact outside domestic football. What you are left with is a manager who gets teams to where they ought to get to, if you give him the resources he will get results. But what Deloittes is telling us is that we don’t have those resources. There’s a difference between what Van Gaal achieved with Bayern and Barcelona and what Ferguson did with Aberdeen, Mourinho with Porto, Brian Clough with Nottingham Forest. Its the difference between meeting expectations and exceeding them, and what Deloittes is telling us is we need to exceed them.

Basically we are number six in terms of revenues, we need to finish in the top four annually simply to close the gap. This won’t change until we have built and paid for a new stadium. So with managers we are in the same position as we are with players, if you can’t afford the superstar you need to find the player before he becomes a superstar. Once the Ferguson’s and Mourinho’s have overachieved with smaller clubs they move outside our price range so we need to find them on the way up.

In that respect Levy’s instincts in signing AVB were right, the problem is he seems a particularly poor judge of managers. But to me there’s no point in pretending we have some sort of entitlement to Champions league football, that any competent manager should be able to deliver it on a regular basis. The reality is we need a manager to overachieve, a gamble that comes off, someone on the way up not the way down, and your guess is as good as mine as to where we find him.

Written by jod