Friday, December 10, 2010

Why it’s a misconception that Liverpool is an old and ageing team

I’ve read a lot in the press about Liverpool being an old team that will only get worse over the next couple of years. This view has been compounded by Hodgeson’s ‘straight into the first 22’ signings over the Summer being in their late twenties and (very) early thirties.

The problem is it’s just not true. The Liverpool first 22 has an average age of 27.1.

This could be reduced if you could make a case for Shelvey, Pacheco or Wilson being part of our first 22 but it couldn’t be raised; in calculating it I opted for the older player every time where there was a decision to make. For instance, I chose Spearing (22) over Shelvey (18) as our fourth choice midfielder.

The only players over thirty are Carragher, Aurelio, Poulsen and Kyrgiakos. Kuyt and Gerrard are in their 30th years.

My feeling is that this perception has arisen because the media perceives Cole (29), Gerrard (30), Carragher (32) and Kuyt (30) to be some of our key players. Of course, this is true in the case of Gerrard and any of the others might have an Indian Summer.

But Carragher is arguably not a first choice when fit. Cole has barely performed since his move and Kuyt, while a great player to date, hasn’t been key to us this season. And don’t forget, 28-30 is supposed to be a player’s peak, not the start of his dotage. We have some very strong young players as well; Lucas, Shelvey, N’Gog and Kelly are all really promising.

But what happens next year? Well, in truth there is only Carragher who will be of retirement age. And, if NESV’s stated belief in youth is proven in their transfer policy, we could have the likes of Hazard, Cahill, Sakho or Luakaku reducing our average age and replacing players like Kyrgiakos, Poulsen and Jovanovic.

And finally, what was the average of Chelsea’s Premiership winning side last season? 27.1.
For reference, here are the player ages used in my calculations:

Pepe 28
Johnson 26
Carra 32
Skrtel 26
Konch 29
Lucas 23
Meireles 27
Maxi 29
Kuyt 30
Gerrard 30
Torres 26

Average: 27.8

Jones 28
Kelly 20
Krgiakos 31
Agger 26
Aurelio 31
Poulsen 30
Spearing 22
Cole 29
Jovanovic 29
Babel 24
Ngog 21

Average: 26.45

Total average: 27.12

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