The Moneyball era in soccer is not quite here

There are a number of books that outline how countries and clubs are not guaranteed to win in soccer because of processes beyond control and the nature of the game allowing for variance in expected outcomes. To win consistently a club or country needs a consistent source of players. To develop those players they need a consistent development process and consistent leadership. The game itself has a high variance in results because it is low scoring. The lower the scores the more likely that the underdog can pull an upset.

However, there are clubs and owners that are convinced that they can find an outcome based solution to what needs to be a process. They think they can find managers or scouts that can pluck young players from other, less fortunate, clubs and build a winner. As the article below, from espnfc, discusses, winning consistently is very difficult and these scouting stars rarely duplicate their results at a new location.

We now live in the age of the superstar scout. In a sport so saturated with money, where clubs are gambling not with thousands but with tens (and increasingly hundreds) of millions on player recruitment, executives and chairmen demand as much bang for their buck as possible. They want to entrust that money — not their money, because it comes from tickets and television rights and sponsorships — to someone who gives the impression of knowing what he is doing. They want to give it to someone with a proven record of success who is able to unearth a bargain while reducing the risk as much as possible. They do not want to leave themselves at the mercy of managers with particular tastes and familiar foot soldiers and murky relationships with agents.

Combine that with the understandable desire to look long term, signing players who will endure even if the manager changes and the belief that football (like baseball) is subject to the same market inefficiencies that gave rise to the “Moneyball” phenomenon and you create the atmosphere we have now: the men who sign the players are almost as coveted as the players they actually sign.

This entry was posted on Friday, November 28th, 2014 at 21:56 and is filed under Professional Soccer, Program Management, Soccer Business. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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