Manchester United

That title sounds as though it should have come from a musical show such as ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ or ‘Oliver’ doesn’t it? We can all picture the orphan child asking for more while simultaneously taking matters into his own hands by picking the pockets of his richer counterparts, if not his betters.

Highly appropriate though that might be in the context of this little story, the words were actually taken from Abba’s ‘Money, Money, Money.’ The single was released on 1st November 1976 as the follow-up to (with apologies to Olivier Giroud) ‘Dancing Queen.’

Further lines include the phrase:

‘In my dreams, I have a plan

If I got me a wealthy man

I wouldn’t have to work at all, I’d fool around and have a ball…’

It has been suggested that Arsenal players have been singing this little song for some time, despite Arsene Wenger preferring – and indeed encouraging – the French version ‘Argent? Je n’ai vu rien.’

Samir Nasri was one of the founders of their little combo – ‘the dressing room emirates’ – and soon spotted the Wealthy Men of Manchester who could provide him with financial security for generations. Unfortunately, Samir could not stop humming this tune, driving everyone mad and ending up in Turkey as a result, where nobody is there to listen to him as he fools around with the ball.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain occasionally remembered the words but not often enough for the Wealthy Men of Manchester to merge him into their new group – ‘the chicken tikka mangala’ – which fools around and loses the ball often enough as it is. So, Alex was forced to join the Diddy Men of Merseyside instead and is singing in tune during about one game in three, so remains consistently inconsistent which will please Jurgen Klopp (once in charge of a yellow submarine himself, apparently).

Alexis Sanchez keeps his feet firmly on the ground – not that much below his head, to be fair – and moved the song on:

‘So, I must leave, I need to be fed

By Manchester City or United

And win a fortune in a game, my life will never be the same… ‘

Now, Pep Guardiola is undoubtedly a wealthy man, but he is unusual in football in wanting to win things as well as get rich very quickly. Looking back through coaching manual 257, volume 2, appendix 37(a) he re-discovered the Great South American Paradox. This teaching suggested that the temptation to cash in on previous group success for individual gain would, in fact, lead to disharmony and relative failure.

A number of gurus have been cited as originators of this thinking (known also as Asprilla’s Heel) such as King Kev and Chris of Sutton but, in fact, it was first expounded by Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus, former Volvo salesmen, who discovered that ‘Money, Money, Money’ was the only Abba single between ‘Mamma Mia’ in January 1976 and ‘Take a Chance on Me’ in February 1978 (both, incidentally, inspired by an increasingly desperate Roberto Mancini’s efforts to remain relevant in some way) not to top the UK chart. ‘Money’ only peaked at number three and Pep definitely did not want to be associated with Chelsea’s failure.

Neither did Jose Mourinho, but with Deloitte announcing that Manchester United had topped its Football Money League for the second year in a row – due mainly to Jose’s team insisting on winning the Europa League – the obscene revenue of €676m, and equally obscene amount of negative press coverage that would come with it, meant that he had to act. And act he did. He pretended that Alexis Sanchez deserved some £14 million per year (after tax); postulated that young United players such as Marcus Rashford and Jesse Lingard would be inspired by the new arrival’s footballing rather than accountancy skills and managed to ditch Henrikh Mkhitaryan because he could never pronounce his name properly in public.

Alexis Sanchez is unlikely to end up playing his fiddle, with a flat cap containing the odd coin on the pavement in front of him. However, he may do well to remember that the winner takes it all in football and nobody loves a banker.