[UPDATE! Rich weighted the data according to playing time! See below]
[UPDATE ii- just moved this up as I think it’s worth a look and don’t want it buried under the Split stuff. Interesting that when we pro-rate age for playing time you’ve got an almost absurdly consistent line upwards. Which you’d expect, of course – our players are a year older each progressive season they play! – but it goes to show that something has to change or we’ll end up with the whole team toppling over their useful peaks together. It’ll be interesting to revisit this in a year’s time. A post that can run and run…. – Rich]
Piggybacking off Rich’s post from the other day, I’ve been looking at the average age of our squad over the years. Remember learning mean, median, and mode, along with standard deviation from math class? Well, it’s back–Fulham style!
We all know that the side is in some (not dire) need of youth, and that our stalwarts aren’t just getting older, they’re nearing the end of their careers–I for one would not be surprised to see Danny Murphy and Damien Duff hang up their boots after this season. Last season we often trotted out the oldest starting XI in the league.
Nonetheless we’re not a side that can purchase, nor grow, a shining young talent that can make an immediate impact because of our budget. A Jordan Henderson, Jack Wilshere, or Javier Hernandez is not walking through that door. Currently I’d say that the only young-ish, cheap talent we’ve brought in, actually utilized for more than one season (sorry, Smalling and, conversely, Stockdale), and reaped the dividends off of is Clint Dempsey. And Coleman bought him 4+ years ago.
Due to our precarious position, we often have to buy players that have been around for a few years and know their stuff; and/or are on the cheap. But, as Rich wrote the other day, “we can start thinking about bringing through young players now.” Whereas I was a little unsure how long Hughes would stay one year ago, I have a bizarre sense of security with Jol. So I agree with his assertion fully.
Below is the average age of each season’s squad in the league. I used stats from Football-Lineups.com, and included anyone who even made a substitution appearance off the bench. This season is a bit difficult as we haven’t started the league yet, so I used the info for the Europa Qualifiers. I also added Dempsey, Salcido, Gecov, and Kasami to the list. I suppose that’s messing a bit with the data, but all four will presumably have a part to play in the league this season, no?
From what I recall in math class, the standard deviation gives us a better look at our data than relying solely on averages. I could be wrong, but the fact that we have the second-highest standard deviation, and most for our Top XI, is promising considering we seem to be jettisoning some of the older folks while adding youth to the squad (swapping Greening for Gecov, for example).
What other things can we glean from all this data? Well, 2007-08 was a just a mess all the way around. Coleman managed in an era that allowed only 5 substitutes, so his squads were smaller and similar throughout the years. Hughes is sort of an asterisk as he was here for 10 months without major changes (hello Sanchez!), but he did get rid of some of the old-ish players (Konch, Kamz) while bringing in youth (Dembele was just 23 when signed, Kakuta 19). It would have been interesting to see what could have been under Sparky.
Rich took the time to weight the data according to playing time. Onwards and Upwards never looked so foreboding.
Which brings us back to Jol. Youth is needed, yet, just last week, according to Sky Sports Martin Jol said,
We played them in the [friendly] matches against Wimbledon and Stevenage and they’re not ready yet to fill in that role as a back-up for Johnson and Zamora. They are talented but of course we need players.
Hmm. We shall see.
For all the data, see below