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Overcoming our biggest recruitment mistakes

Just like the universe is governed by a set of rational laws that we can discover and understand, football’s transfer market is also determined by factors that we’re able to research and control.

Such research helps us understand what happened, why it happened and what might happen in the future. It can rinse our eyes and help to overrule our cognitive biases. It can help us identify inefficiencies in the market to help us get an edge on our rivals.

In the context of player recruitment, our work at 21st Club has shown that time and again in football we tend to:

  1. Misjudge the relative strength of the selling club, meaning that it’s often unrealistic to expect the new player to step-up,
  2. Overvalue certain types of playing experience, meaning that we often overpay for something that’s relatively unimportant,
  3. Undervalue the role of simple data, including past availability and minutes played – which are often a stronger predictor of future success than the (supposedly) more advanced data,
  4. Misunderstand age profiles, which means a large percentage of new transfer investments gets wasted on already depreciating player assets,
  5. Overlook the stylistic fit, which we can now objectively measure through using data.
  6. Focus on a small fragment of the market, because we lack the resources to cast the net far and wide and so end up paying a premium.

Every day we work with clubs to create strategies to combat these market inefficiencies and build the confidence to make braver decisions. And with the release of Acquisition 2.0, we’ve now captured this research and way of thinking into a platform that we believe has the power to change the way football discovers new talent.

About Blake Wooster

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