In the 2013/14 season, United spent more money on wages than any other Premier League team with a total wage bill of £215.8m yet finished seventh after a torrid season with David Moyes as manager.
The club’s wage bill will have likely swelled following the introduction of record signing Angel Di Maria and the Premier League’s highest paid player Radamel Falcao yet the club are currently in third position and unlikely to remain in the title race for much longer.
In their popular book Soccernomics, Financial Times journalist Simon Kuper and economist Stefan Szymanski found that salaries explained around 90 per cent of variation in league positions and were thus a strong indication of where a team should expect to finish - however this theory is still disputed by others.
Last season Manchester United finished six positions lower than their wage bill would have dictated, the worst performance of any team in the league.
Sunderland, Aston Villa and Newcastle United also performed below market expectations, respectively finishing five, four and three places lower than their wage bill ranking.
Although Newcastle owner Mike Ashley is regularly chided for not showing enough ambition with his investments into the team, Newcastle actually boasted the seventh largest wage bill in the league last season with £78.3m spent on salaries. However, Alan Pardew’s men did not reflect such economic strength on the pitch when they finished 10th.
Newcastle are performing even further below expectations this season as they languish in 15th place following a wretched run of form under first team coach John Carver.
Similarly, Sunderland and Aston Villa’s league performances have been below-par this season.
Performing against the odds are Southampton and to a lesser extent Stoke and Liverpool.
The Saints are the Premier League’s true outliers, having finished in the top eight (a feat they could even improve upon this year) despite having the fifth-smallest budget in the league of just £55.2m.
Liverpool’s remarkable run to the runners-up spot last season was also an impressive achievement considering the club’s £144m wage bill was only the fifth-largest in the league and over £60m smaller than both Manchester United and Manchester City whom they finished above.
Despite some disappointing performances, this season marks more of a return to parity for The Reds.