Football in England and Europe now has one dominant colour. In less than a week, Manchester City and Chelsea pulled off victories that you would be forgiven for thinking happened only once in a blue moon. And from Manchester United to Bayern Munich, these have drained colour from different shades of red.
Quite like last week's match at the Etihad Stadium, Saturday's Champions League final was a clash of contrasting ideas, one backed by significantly greater sums of money than the other. Till two minutes from time, it looked as if the traditional way of running a football club would prevail over those seeking to fast track success with truckloads of money. Thomas Mueller typified the Bayern Munich idea of identifying talent, first in the city, then in the state, following which a team would scour the country and beyond. Ever since he was 11, he would take a train with his father and come to Bayern's Saebener Strasse headquarters to train.
At the magnificent Allianz Arena, a football amphitheatre that would be Bayern's own soon with all debts cleared, Mueller had Philipp Lahm, Bastian Schweinsteiger among others for company. They have been together since pre-teens, believing in the Bayern motto of Mia San Mia, believing that Bayern is the engine that drives German football. Yes they had with them Manuel Neuer, Arjen Robben, Franck Ribbery and Ivica Olic, but all of them put together would still seem like small change to the sum Roman Abramovich pumped into Chelsea since he decided to take the club to the top of the world.
It is not as if tradition doesn't pay. Though Bayern makes pittance from television money compared to, say, Chelsea and Spanish giants Real Madrid and Barcelona who negotiate their own TV rights, the club, with former football greats in key administrative positions, has made a profit for 18 straight years and generates 350m euros annually. It is also a club whose members own nearly 82 per cent.
When Didier Drogba headed home and then slotted in the final penalty, he did more than immortalise himself in Chelsea history. The Ivorian striker knocked at the foundations of an ideology that counted the Edwards family and Matt Busby among its believers. One that the proponent of Total Football, the late Rinus Michels and later Johan Cruyff espoused at Ajax and Barcelona respectively. Just like Sergio Aguero and Edin Dzeko did when Manchester City were looking down the barrel on May 13.
It's been a while since Abramovic arrived with his billions. Sheikh Mansour fetched up in Manchester to shore up the beleaguered Citizens a lot later. Coincidentally, in six days of each other, they reaped handsome dividends. In the process, they proved that though money may not buy love, it sure smoothens the path to success.