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Striking The Balance Between Youth And Experience – Queens Park Rangers & Aston Villa

15 April 2013 by

There are many decisions that a newly promoted club has to get right otherwise they could find themselves right back where they started. Getting to the Premier League is only the beginning of a long and difficult battle and staying there for more than one or two seasons is what all teams strive towards. One of the key decisions, in this situation, is whether to go with a team of experienced veterans, or to trust in promising youth players.

Bringing in the right players is only part of what makes a football team successful, maintaining that success and achieving longevity in the one of the world’s most respected football leagues is down to achieving the right balance between youth, experience, talent and managerial know-how.

Add the Right Experience:

Managers of newly promoted clubs often make the mistake of signing a player simply because he is experienced. That player may not have performed well for a few seasons, but the manager will rationalize his decision by saying that the player has “been there and done that.” This is a critical mistake because a player’s past achievements rarely have any impact on their future performances.

If a player is 32 or 33 and his best days are behind him, a club should be extremely careful before buying him. His fitness, injury record, personal motivation, and personality should all be analysed before committing to a transfer. Experienced players who will clash with the current squad will do more harm than good. Similarly, a player who wants his final pay day will contribute little to the fight for survival.

QPR is a classic example of this conundrum. Instead of adding a few experienced players to their squad, they went ahead and bought a bucket load of them. The likes of Djibril Cisse, Bobby Zamora, Park Ji-Sung, Robert Green, Anton Ferdinand, and Jose Bosingwa will never be as good as they were. Most of these players are now on massive contracts at QPR yet contribute nothing. The club are still bottom of the Premier League and had to buy more players in the winter to help their survival push.

Another team which elected to field a team of youth and inexperienced players is Aston Villa.  Currently battling to stay out of the relegation zone, a look at the team’s fixture results over on fan site www.astonvilla.co.uk will reveal just what a bumpy ride one of the Premier League’s founding clubs has had this season.

On the flipside, there is the example of Bolton under Sam Allardyce. He had a team of talented players who were close to their prime, but he would supplement this team with a few inexperienced players in key areas. The likes of Gary Speed, Jay-Jay Okocha, and Nicholas Anelka helped the team during various moments as they maintained a healthy position in the Premier League. What Sam Allardyce did not do is buy ten or fifteen such players. He recognized that old legs need young ones around them, just like inexperienced players need some guidance in key moments.

Trust Youth:

Youth is often an underrated commodity in football. Young players are fearless, and they are willing to do anything to succeed. Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers summed up the difference between young and experienced players: “When I tell a young player to run 50 meters and jump, he will give it everything to impress me. When I ask the same of a veteran, he will ask me why I am making him do this.”

Young players can be molded the way a manager wants. They can be taught new tactics, new styles of playing, and they do not have the fear from past experiences in their heads. If a team wants to gain promotion and stay in the Premier League, it must have a talented pool of young players at their disposal. 

Author Georgina Clatworthy is a freelance writer and has been a football fan since her teens. The English Premier Football League is one of the toughest leagues in the world and is followed by football fans around the globe. For fans of Aston Villa FC, the website www.astonvilla.co.uk helps to keep the club’s fans and supporters informed of the latest news and results, offering them the opportunity to connect with each other through the fan forum.

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