I think it's important to put those big signings in context. With Veron, admittedly, we had a crazy summer, buying Ruud for big money at around the same time. However we'd literally spent nothing for nearly two years by that point, despite winning two league titles, a European cup, being paid a fortune to go to Brazil and just generally making an absolute fucktonne of money. We saved up for that ridiculous spending spree, and helped finance it by selling Cole and Stam for big money. With Rio, Rooney and Berbatov each was effectively our only signing the summer they were bought. Again, we saved up for the big signings, and took a big risk by investing in one special player, where other clubs spent just as much, or even more, on several purchases in one go. There is simply no comparison to be drawn between ourselves and City and Chelsea. edit: To elaborate on this a bit. One of my favourite examples of the above is from the summer of 2004. Liverpool spent £39,800,000 on Djibril Cisse, Josemi, Luis Garcia, Xabi Alonso, Fernando Morientes and Scott Carson. Manchester United spent £27,000,000 on Wayne Rooney.