Aldridge: If Mourinho delivers Premier League crown Man Utd will be accused of buying title
JOSE MOURINHO will be accused of buying the Premier League title if his Manchester United side end up as champions - but I don't think that accusation can be thrown at him any more.
There is a very simple rule that needs to be followed in the most extravagant transfer window ever and it reads something like this; join the madness, or get left behind.
That is precisely what Mourinho and United have done with their lavish summer of spending that has included the £89m deal for Paul Pogba, the £30m capture of defender Eric Bailly and purchase of Henrikh Mkhitaryan for around £26m.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic has also arrived and while he is down as a free transfer, the wages and package that United pay him is massive - so their cash outlay this summer has blown everyone else away.
Yet while Mourinho effectively bought the title using money inherited from a Russian billionaire in his first stint as Chelsea boss, this spending splurge is a little more palatable.
Chelsea and Manchester City generated success in a manner that was hard for the rest of the Premier League to stomach, with their sugar-daddy benefactors ploughing money in to bankroll manufactured triumphs.
True football fans believe Chelsea and City's success was purchased and not earned, and even though the trophies they collected are in the record books, the top clubs in English football are still those with a genuine history that has developed over generations.
United are an example of a truly big club that is generating huge sums of cash through their commercial deals and when you add the TV money into that mix, they have a massive cash surplus to put into these mega-transfers.
Mourinho is a manager with a winning record given the right resources and that's why I was forced to predict (through gritted teeth!) that United will be champions this season.
As a Liverpool man clearly I don't want to see that happening, but I have no problem with the money United are spending as they have it in the bank and should do what they want with it. The same goes for my old club, with Reds boss Jurgen Klopp spending £68m on new signings this summer.
Their business has been shrewdly handled as they have got all that money back from selling players, including the £32m departure of Christian Benteke to Crystal Palace.
Meanwhile, Manchester City have spent around £140m since Pep Guardiola arrived and Chelsea have splashed £65m on two new signings, with the possibility of more to come.
These figures are hard for fans to get their heads around but we need to get over that surprise and realise that this is the way the game works in 2016.
City have paid massively over the odds to get John Stones from Everton, but that doesn't really matter at this moment.
Premier League managers are sitting on a mountain of cash from this new broadcasting deal and spending it on players (whether they are the finished product or not) seems the sensible thing to do.
English clubs trying to buy from Europe are being quoted silly prices and you simply have to hand over the cash or find yourself in the position Arsenal were in when facing Liverpool on the opening weekend of the season.
After apparently failing with bids for players like Jamie Vardy, Riyad Mahrez and Alexandre Lacazette, Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger found himself in a very difficult spot heading into the game against Liverpool.
With a makeshift defence and an average forward line, Arsenal were blown away by a very impressive second-half Liverpool display and it sparked more annoyance from Gunners fans who have been annoyed by Wenger's lack of spending for some time.
To be fair, I suspect most teams would have struggled to stick with Liverpool in the first 20 minutes of that second half as when they get it together as an attacking unit, they are tough to stop.
Yet Arsenal supporters do not want excuses, as their priority is winning football matches and seeing the best players in the world arriving at their club.
It now looks as though Arsene Wenger will finally open up the chequebook with moves for striker Lucas Perez and centre-half Shkodran Mustafi.
The idea of building a team over time and finding bargains in the transfer market is no longer an issue Premier League managers can worry about, as they need success straight away.
That's the primary reason Palace believe Benteke is a very shrewd investment and I would agree with them on that.
Palace have just sold Yannick Bolasie for £30m to Everton, so they look at the Benteke deal as an investment that has cost them just £2m. If Benteke's goals keep Palace up this season and maybe even help them to a top-10 finish, they will be guaranteed another £140m from the Premier League pot next season and their prize money alone for a decent finish will cover the cost of this transfer.
Money always bought you power in football, but now every club in the Premier League is loaded and that is creating a market that ensures even an average full-back is worth £30m.
It all seems a long way from the days when Kenny Dalglish popped down to Oxford United to sign the likes of Ray Houghton and myself for Liverpool, but the game has changed beyond recognition and there is no way of reversing the current trends.
Football used to be a sport but it is now business first and foremost.