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What Premier League Clubs can Learn from Baseball

topper scout What Premier League Clubs can Learn from Baseball
By Kent Darcy

Why don’t football clubs employ baseball models (i.e. sabermetrics) for evaluating talent? As a football and baseball junkie, I’m more than aware of the fact that both sports are entirely different. But, it seems to me that baseball is on to something when clubs like the A’s and Twins (and many others) are able to evaluate talent aside from “the name” of a player and able to save marginal revenue by signing Player X (70% as good as Player Y, 1/25th the price) over Player Y (Better than Player X to be sure, but W-A-Y more expensive)…I could give you scores of examples, but hope that you see where I’m going.

I’ve been wondering lately, why more football clubs don’t employ methods a la Arsenal or Manchester United or, better yet, Portsmouth or Blackburn? Or, do they and I’m not aware of it? No, not buying the highest priced youngsters on the market, but buying reasonably priced youngsters on the market.

Of course there are “can’t miss” players like Ronaldo or Essien that always fall to the clubs with money. But, most clubs in Europe can’t afford those players. That they try to compete with the signings of the biggest clubs in Europe is just stupid; it’s also economically impossible. Think Sevilla or Villarreal try to compete with Real Franco or Barcelona with money? Hell no, they find inequalities in the system and untapped resources (i.e. failed Premiership players). So, where in the hell are the majority of Premiership clubs with this approach?

This to me seems oh-so-obvious, especially when one considers the fact that football has a player pool massively larger than baseball and spread throughout the globe. I’m mean all the freaking money in England (or Europe) right now and why aren’t more teams scouting Argentina, Chile, Brazil, Africa, or Asia for players as good as Lee Bowyer or Pick-Your-Fulham-Or-Boro-Player for less money and more upside?

I’m a West Ham fan. For the life of me I can’t figure out why West Ham (i.e. a club with status for its football academy) would ever sign players like Dyer, Parker, Solano, Ljungberg, Boa Morte, and Neill. Yeah, these guys are okay, but they’re injury prone and/or old(er) and/or not THAT much better than youthful depth. Hell, I’d take youthful depth from Championship sides and an Anderson or Babel over the lot that I just gave you. I mean, is a squad assembled at Portsmouth or Blackburn THAT difficult to figure out? No, not it’s not. And I tell you what, when an American fan watching from afar and reading his World-Soccer-Daily-inspired Four Four Two can see and predict teams’ stupid signings…well…that’s saying something.

It seems to me that a hell of a void is out there when it comes to assessing value for production and most Premiership sides are not doing a very good job of using their sizeable resources to properly assemble a competitive side.


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About Christopher Harris

Founder and publisher of World Soccer Talk, Christopher Harris is the managing editor of the site. He has been interviewed by The New York Times, The Guardian and several other publications. Plus he has made appearances on NPR, BBC World, CBC, BBC Five Live, talkSPORT and beIN SPORT. Harris, who has lived in Florida since 1984, has supported Swansea City since 1979. He's also an expert on soccer in South Florida, and got engaged during half-time of a MLS game. Harris launched EPL Talk in 2005, which was rebranded as World Soccer Talk in 2013.
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