Too old, too young: Fulham and player peak ages

A man named Michael Caley has used Opta data to plot the percentage minutes of Premier League games played by people of each age.  If you think football is a halfway efficient market (managers are generally picking their best players) then this should be extremely interesting.

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So: just 2% of Premier League minutes were played by midfielders of 33 or over.  Why?  Presumably because the demands of the position are such that you simply can’t cut it at that age.   Hmmm.

The other thing is that Fulham clearly went a bit far with the ‘bring in the kids’ movement last season.  You need a groundswell of players between 23 and 27 and that, for a long time actually, has been a huge blind-spot for Fulham.

Anyway, here are the players who are of ‘about the right age’:

24 Shaun Hutchinson
23 Dan Burn
22 Ryan Tunnicliffe
23 Alex Kacaniklic
28 Ross McCormack
25 Matt Smith
21 Sean Kavanagh
20 Lasse Vigen Christensen
23 Marcus Bettinelli

Whether these players are good enough is another story, but the point is that Fulham ought to be picking players of this kind of age profile.

For the sake of certain readers, no, I am not suggesting you pick players based on how old they are.  I am suggesting that players of a certain age are most likely to be contributing to a successful team, and that if you stray too far outside these norms you may be in danger of picking players who are on the downside of their careers, whose reputations may be greater than their abilities (you want the opposite!).

One thought on “Too old, too young: Fulham and player peak ages

  1. Correct. Last August, it was a point being quite widely made about the squad for the coming season. We’d yet to see how they played, but they were an unpromising mix in age terms. I recall at the time doing some light research which found that — at the other extreme — all but one of promoted Burnley’s regulars had been of prime age.

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