Nowadays, managers can spend over £100m on a single player and all of these teams are scattered with international stars from all across Europe. Manchester City’s squad alone is worth over £1bn with Manchester United and Chelsea also spending obscene amounts of money to challenge for the league title. However, during the mid-2000s, only Chelsea were able to spend money so freely as Roman Abramovich was desperate for success with the Blues.
United also spent money when necessary, however, it wasn’t anywhere near the extent they do now. Arsenal and Liverpool also didn’t spend like Chelsea or City, Wenger and Benitez were more reliant on their ability to develop and motivate players to be able to reach higher levels and compete for the biggest prizes on offer. Sir Alex Ferguson was a master of evolving his team over the years and adapting the way they were set up to remain competitive at the highest level and most managers nowadays are more reliant on systems and try over and over again to bring in players to fit into their particular philosophy.
The standard in the mid-2000s may be slightly higher in terms of the very best players, it would be difficult to say for certain that the overall level of talent was higher due to the way football has changed in recent years.