Player Recruitment

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  • 22 Jun 2017

    The challenge of scouting Ajax

    Ajax’s impressive run to the Europa League final alerted clubs across Europe to the potential of the young players in their squad, and suggested to many that they had the temperament as well as the skill to compete in bigger leagues.While clubs have access to video as well as the ability to watch Ajax’s players […]
  • 08 Jun 2017

    How to spend it

    When deciding how to improve our squad over the summer, we often have to choose between prioritising defence and attack. In the last four years, clubs have spent just over 75% of transfer fees on midfielders and attackers, which suggests that at the very least clubs are prepared to pay more for attacking talent (perhaps […]
  • 24 May 2017

    Because thinking is hard

    Back in January we wrote about some of the cognitive biases that can hinder our better judgement when recruiting new players. For example, we might overvalue experience – because know-how feels safe and so we assume it’s important – or be overly optimistic about a new player because we desperately want the signing to work out. Since […]
  • 19 May 2017

    The breadth-depth compromise

    In an ideal world we would scout every footballer on the planet and have full knowledge of each player’s suitability for our club. However, limited resources mean we have to strike a compromise between the breadth and depth of our search:Prioritise breadth: by scouting many players, we reduce the risk of missing out on talent, […]
  • 11 May 2017

    The biggest bang for your buck

    Finding the balance between what we want and what we can afford is a key part of player recruitment. Often our grandiose summer plans are left unfulfilled by the time the new season arrives, with necessary compromise having thwarted our ambitions.But there are some simple things that we can do to maximise the performance returns […]
  • 20 Apr 2017

    Rating our scouts

    Player recruitment is a process that should ideally combine objectivity and subjectivity. Both aspects, however, should regularly come under suitable scrutiny and review: we should question whether we are looking at the right data, and we should question the predictions of our scouts.While the former can require detailed statistical checks, the latter needn’t be an […]
  • 06 Apr 2017

    The impact manager

    We know from our research that, in the long run, managerial changes on average make little difference to the performance of a team. That isn’t to say, however, that smart hires can’t turn a struggling team around.When we look through our database of managers who did improve performance in their first 20 matches in charge, […]
  • 16 Feb 2017

    Superforecasters

    If I asked you how likely your new January signing was to be a success, what would you say?Assuming you acquired an established player your natural instinct is that you really want your new signing to play every match between now and the end of the season - to boost your chances of survival or […]
  • 26 Jan 2017

    The right information

    In the final stages of the transfer window, where we might have three or four options to pursue, we are often faced with a deluge of information. It’s the result of days, weeks, and months of data and anecdotes collected from scouts, analysts, and external sources like the media.Imagine, for example, that these are some […]
  • 12 Jan 2017

    A spike in demand

    The January transfer window is often a period of opportunism and seeking a short-term fix. The ability to bring players in can depend on a whole range of factors, including costs elsewhere in the squad, the seller’s appetite to sell, payment terms, and so on.The market conditions play a role, too; it’s useful to know […]