Benjamin Button FC
We normally take an interest in teams with young squads for the purposes of player recruitment. Clubs like FC Nordsjaelland, for example, have gained reputations for being hotspots for young talents in mid-tier leagues.
It can also be interesting to look at the coaches of these teams – managing a young team requires different skills to managing an experienced squad, and if our strategy is to develop young players, hiring a coach with this background is logical and sensible.
There is another dimension that we can analyse too – whether a coach has helped a club reduce the age of its squad. Every team reaches the end of its life cycle at some point, and needs refreshing, but not all coaches can ease a team through this phase. The chart below highlights some clubs who are going through this transition at the moment.
For example, Ligue 2 club Niort had an average starting XI age of 26 years and 11 months last season. In the summer, they installed Patrice Lair as their new head coach – Lair had previously enjoyed enormous success in women’s football – and he has come in and played a number of young players, reducing the age of the team to 23 years and 6 months. Crucially, this hasn’t come at the expense of performance; Niort have started well and look set to improve on last season’s finish. Continued success might mean Niort are a team to follow, if we were scouting for coaches who have a track record in rejuvenating teams.
Frank Lampard is implementing similar changes at Derby County, albeit with the help of some loan players to complement his experienced squad, and saw his team knock Manchester United out of the League Cup on Tuesday.
As with any professional hire, we are always looking for individuals with the right experience and skills for the available role. Fortunately in football we have the data to help pick out potentially suitable options – it’s just about knowing where to look.