By Tony Attwood
We know all the stories. Arsenal don’t spend money in the transfer window. Arsene Wenger insists on using youngsters all the time. Other clubs never do this, it is only Arsenal. If we had a different manager who brought in proper players we’d be ok. New managers always work. So do transfers.
Now I’ve never had the patience to go through each squad and find how many youngsters each team uses, but today the Daily Telegraph has just done this for me. Unfortunately they don’t set their findings out in the most helpful way, and there also seems to be a mistake for the Liverpool figures as far as I can see. But still, I’ve not had to do the work.
The figures are taken only for players starting a match, not subs.
And resolving the oddities and issues as far as I can make out, here’s what we get for the teams with the lowest average age, and then a few others…
Players ages are in years (y) and days (d) but I suspect you worked that out anyway.
|Club||Youngest player||Average age||Oldest age||Av age pos||Lge pos|
|Tiny Totts||19y 274d||25y 266d||33y 98d||1||3|
|Liverpool!||17y 103d||26y 14d||31y 87d||2||4|
|Southampton||19y 304d||26y 160d||33y 35d||3||11|
|Sunderland||17y 274d||26y 325d||35y 271d||4||20|
|Man U||19y 23d||27y 87d||35y 182d||5||6|
|Bournemouth||19y 357d||27y 96d||36y 340d||6||12|
|Arsenal||19y 150d||27y 99d||34y 251d||7||2|
|Chelsea||20y 109d||23y 235d||36y 49d||10||1|
|Man City||19y 212d||28y 303d||35y 120d||17||5|
|Watford||18y 335d||29 316d||35y 345d||20||14|
… and so what we can see is that age doesn’t really count. Chelsea are top of the league but have the 10th oldest squad. Sunderland are bottom but have the fourth oldest squad. Tottenham are third but have the youngest squad. There seems little rhyme or reason to the table, and in fact no real connection between the average age of the squad and the league position.
Although I must say that five years after adopting the nickname “The Tiny Totts” I have finally found out why it is true.
Most of the squads have used a player who is around 19 years old – ours is Ainsley Maitland Niles. Most of the squads have an older man in goal – we certainly do, our oldest player is Cech.
So there we have it – Arsenal using youngsters doesn’t separate us from other teams very much. Age doesn’t really matter. Just as the amount spent in the transfer window doesn’t indicate how well the club is going to do.
Changing the manager does make a difference, although usually that is negatively. You can argue, as Tottenham obviously do, that if you change the manager enough you will ultimately find a good one, but it can take 20 odd years so is not likely to keep most fans happy.
The one thing that probably makes a difference is bringing youngsters into the team so they get experience and become ready for the future. Arsenal have been trying to do this at an average rate of one a year, but of course not every player works out. Iwobi, Coquelin, Bellerin have all come of age in the current team, but so far at least Zelalem seems to have lost his way a little.
So it is, I am sorry to say, another Arsenal myth. You might not be able to win anything with kids, but then we don’t have a kiddies team.
But at least the name of the Tiny Totts is finally validated, and it was worth it just for that.
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