The House of Payne - Money is not the be all, and end all when it comes to success
As a young reporter I remember getting a phone call once from an irate football manager.
He had just been sacked from his job and I had written a fairly innocent article focussing on the fact his team had barely won a match and were bottom of the table.
Hardly earth-shattering stuff, but this manager gave me a half-hour’s lecture – how could he expect to do his job properly when he’d got a fraction of everyone else's budget?
My notepad full, this guy had persuaded me that – with a few more quid – he was the next Arsene Wenger but, as he slammed the phone down, he told me not to print a word as the whole lot was “off the record”.
Things haven’t changed. Talking about money and budgets seems to be the great taboo – yet everywhere you look it’s hugely relevant.
It’s no coincidence that the big city clubs dominate in football; the county sides with the Test venues dominate in cricket; and the heavily backed Toulon are reigning Heineken Cup holders.
Which is why it was refreshing this week when Conor O’Shea, Harlequins’ director of rugby, talked numbers in the wake of his side’s 17-3 victory over Racing Metro in that same competition – completing a double over a French outfit featuring four Lions Jamie Roberts, Jonathan Sexton, Mike Phillips and Dan Lydiate.
O’Shea said: “We were the better team, with the emphasis on team, and that’s what made the big difference.
“If you’re spending £20m on a squad when we’re spending £5m, it’s a huge disparity, but that’s part of the challenge.”
A few people at Quins did not like the piece I wrote a few weeks ago which said a few people may raise their eyebrows at O’Shea and his coaching team being handed a new deal – at a time when results were nothing to write home about.
But it isn’t just the four wins in a row since those deals were announced that show how fully those new deals were deserved.
Quins are clearly a team rather than just a club – and money can’t buy that.
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