The graph below illustrates the ages of players Newcastle United have signed from Ronny Jonsen in 2004 to Rob Elliot in 2011 in chronological order. Age is plotted on the Y-axis and sequentially each player along the X-axis. For the purposes of examining buying trends, I have included all permanent transfers and omitted any trial, loan and released players.
We can see that moving from Souness to Pardew, via Roeder, Allardyce, Keegan, Kinnear and Shearer, the line of regression plotting the average age a player has been signed has fallen from 26 to 22. What is also clear is the ‘under-26’ policy which appears after the Pancrate/Lovenkrands deals when 29 years old, (about 2/3 along the x-axis). Beyond those signings all players fall below the 26 year cut off. That the average age of these players signed is just 23 is pertinent too - contrast this with Allardyce-tenure signings which have an average age of over 26.
Again, one cannot just view the numbers in isolation, the context of these signings must also be examined, and what happened to them. All played their part in NUFC history, but in recent years we have seen the departure of older, big name players, signed on big money long-term contracts (as explored below), as part of the ‘buying young and better’ model Ashley has adopted.
Buying young, and buying better… now where have we seen that before….?
The similar graph above plots permanent playing incomings all the way back to Sir Bobby Robson’s first acquisition, Kevin Gallagher. During his time as manager, which takes us from 0 to about 1/4 along the X-axis, (to the 27 year old Stephen Carr), the average age of a player signed is just under 23.
After this time, up until the spate of signings including Zamblera, Vučkić, Ranger, Soderberg etc. by Kinnear and Keegan, the majority of players signed are above 25. It is well documented that the degree of influence in transfer policy those managers was not huge. The ‘policy’ was that of Mike Ashley, and an early indicator that amongst the managerial and contractual circus that was playing out in the public eye, player recruitment remained restricted by a systematic adoption of younger, cheaper, and potentially better, players.
Look at how the line of regression changes from Sir Bobby in October 1999 to Alan Pardew in 2012: it doesn’t. The current and historic policies balance each other out, so that when taking into account the more senior signings of Souness, Roeder and Allardye, the ‘typical’ age of a player signed over this time appears constant.
We have effectively reverted to a recruitment style that brought us fast, hungry, young players like Bellamy, N’Zogbia, Woodgate, Milner - and the pacy football that was a direct result of this persuasion.
All of those players were eventually sold-on, but not before we got out ‘moneys worth’ out of them in a playing sense. If we are also incorporating this element of that transfer strategy into our current policy that I discussed below, (#YoungerCheaperBetter), I would conclude that our financial prudence in the transfer market gives us great justification in maintaining optimism for the future comings and goings at St James’ Park.1 year ago • 0 notes • view comments