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From Leeds United to Monaco – five teams who spent big and lost

| 16.12.2013

With Andre Villas-Boas sacked as manager of Tottenham Hotspur following an abject 5-0 home defeat to Champions League rivals Liverpool, the chances of seeing the Lilywhites finish in the top four look slim.

Indeed, Ladbrokes are currently offering odds of 7/2 on the north London club reaching one of the much-heralded positions come the end of the current campaign, while the Reds are on at the much more favourable price of 4/9.

It comes despite a summer of extreme spending at White Hart Lane with the record sale of Gareth Bale to Real Madrid prompting the club to shell out over £107m on new players.

But as these examples from history show us, you can’t always buy success on the pitch with money.

Leeds United – 2002-2003

David O’Leary oversaw something of a revolution at Leeds in the early part of the previous decade, with an expensively-assembled team full of young British and Irish stars challenging the Manchester United-Arsenal duopoly of the era both home and abroad.

The likes of Mark Viduka, Seth Johnson and Rio Ferdinand – each of whom arrived for significant sums – reached the semi-finals of the UEFA Cup and Champions League in successive seasons, but after failing to finish in the top four during the 2000-01 campaign, the Irish manager was sacked.

Terry Venables fared little better despite the quality of the squad available and the club lurched into disaster as it was revealed that the many big money signings had been purchased with loans. Leeds survived one more year in the Premier League before relegation – they have yet to return.

Borussia Dortmund – 2003-04

Back at the turn of the millennium and with 1997’s Champions League success fresh in the mind, Borussia Dortmund became the first club to be publicly traded on the German stock exchange.

It prompted a serious spending spree with the likes of Tomas Rosicky, Jan Koller and Marcio Amoruso recruited for exorbitant fees.

At first a league title in 2002 and UEFA Cup final place suggested the gamble had paid off, but as the spending continued with Evanilson and Torsten Frings purchased ahead of the 2003/04 campaign, injuries and inconsistent form took hold.

Disaster then struck as Dortmund crashed out of the Champions League at the preliminary stages, missing out on a windfall of £20m. The next six years saw them reach the brink of financial meltdown as they failed to finish higher than sixth.

Liverpool – 2011-2012

The return of King Kenny to the Kop was supposed to herald the beginning of a new era at Anfield – but instead it brought more misery for Pool fans the world over.

With new owner John Henry keen to bolster the squad following the £50m sale of Fernando Torres to Chelsea in came the likes of Andy Carroll, Jordan Henderson, Charlie Adam and Stewart Downing at a combined cost of over £75m.

But the new signings failed to gel under the Reds boss and despite claiming the Capital One Cup on penalties and reaching the FA Cup final, their poor league form saw Dalglish dismissed come the end of the season.

Monaco – 2004-05          

Fresh from a Champions League final appearance in 2004, Didier Deschamps set about building a Monaco team that could compete domestically with the dominant Lyon side of the era.

Having seen star players Jerome Rothen, Ludovic Giuly and Dado Prso depart in the close season, highly rated Inter Milan forward Mohammed Kallon and Barcelona reject Javier Saviola were recruited alongside Javier Chevanton.

The latter had been tearing up Serie A with Lecce in the previous season and Deschamps happily forked out over £8m for his services.  Signed along with a little known Brazilian right-back by the name of Maicon, only the latter of the four would go on to flourish at the club with Monaco finishing third  – 16 points off Lyon.

Lazio – 2001-02

In 2003, Rome’s other club had also established themselves as one of the biggest spenders in Serie A, backed by the owners of the Cirio food products multinational, the Cragnotti family.

But while previous years saw them strike gold with the big-money purchases of Hernan Crespo and Juan Sebastian Veron from rivals Parma, 2001-02 proved a season too far for their go-for-broke transfer spending.

Having seen Valencia impress during back-to-back marches to the final of the Champions League the Italian’s swooped for star midfielder Gaizka Mendieta along with Manchester United’s Jaap Stam and the Azzurri’s Euro 2000 hero Stefano Fiore as part of a spending spree totalling over £105m.

What followed was an unmitigated disaster with Lazio crashing out of Europe early and finishing sixth behind Chievo in the league with the club drawn into financial problems off the pitch in the coming years.

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Jack Beresford

Jack Beresford is a content writer with over five years of experience in writing about sport and betting, including a two-year spell with Axonn Media. Contributes articles to HereIsTheCity and Lad Bible, while previous credits include Bwin, FTB Pro, Bleacher Report and the QBE rugby. Avid follower of tennis, rugby union, motorsport and football, Jack also writes about poker for Cardspiel.com alongside Guardian journalist Dominic Wells.