By Tony Attwood
We’ve been looking at the simple notion that sacking the manager and/or buying new players will turn a club around. On their own, these approaches don’t deliver.
However, there is a complication because spending on transfers does work in the sense that the top four teams in the league have in their squads the most valuable players. But that measure is the measure of the VALUE of the player now. In short players’ value is created by a mixture of their own natural ability and willingness to work hard, alongside the tactical understanding of the manager in terms of how to utilise that player in the team.
So when we look at squads overall, we find the four most valuable squads in order, are those of the top four teams in the league, in the same order. Not because those players are the best players, but because their value has increased because they are being played in a way that suits them, alongside other such players also being played in a way that suits them.
Plus the fact that the manager in question can work out how to create a balanced team. In short Player X might appear to be worth £50m playing in a certain team, in a certain way, because the manager has appreciated that this is the way to play him. Another manager may require changes that the player may not be able to deliver. Yet another may try to make other players in the team change to accommodate the newcomer. It can work (Wenger got it to work with Henry) but not always. And of course, it takes time which these days the media and some fans are not willing to give.
So you can end up with top players in a club, but the club simply not functioning. Take Everton for example; they have the eighth-most valuable squad in the league and are 16th in the Premier League at the moment.
Going the other way Brighton have the 16th most valuable squad in the league but are 9th in the league. These two figures (-8 for Everton +7 for Brighton) are the biggest differences for league position and value of players at the moment, and should remind journalists that transfers don’t always work. But sadly, journalists seem reluctant to learn.
As for Arsenal, they have the seventh most valuable squad in the league but are currently sixth in the league. But Arsenal are still changing and developing to allow their players to fit into the manager’s view of how they should play. The fact that the club is second in the form league over the last six games, and with games in hand over the clubs above us suggests it could happen.
If that happens it is likely the value of the players we are using will increase. Martinelli for example is valued at £25 million. A few more quality performances and goals from him and that will really start to rise. If he develops his Henry type role of playing on the wing but also scoring goals, he will look like one of the great bargains of this century.
Above all, what is interesting is just how long and how much money is needed to take a club up a position or two. Manchester City have a squad valued at £433 million more than Arsenal’s squad. There is of course no way we can spend £433,000,000 on new players to catch them up – neither our owners nor FFP rules will allow it and we don’t have the sponsorship from an official tractor supplier to Arsenal FC either.
And as we have seen, being the top spender last summer has lifted us just one place. Now that might turn out to be two or even three places when the dust settles on the season, but even so, buying our way to the top is not going to work unless the buying is very cleverly done and combined with tactical changes.
Value figures in the table below are derived from Transfer Market and these are related to league position quite closely.
|Club||Total value||Value position||Lge pos||Diff||Transfer 2021/2||Transfer pos|
|West Ham United||£315.68m||10||5||+5||£-63.24m||5|
|Brighton & Hove||£215.91m||16||9||+7||+£4.32m||19|
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