I am current reading a very interesting book ‘Why England Lose & other curious football phenomena explained’ which uses the raw data available to a journalistic and economists which helps give explain some of the odd things in football. A very rational look and interesting results from their data, interviews and anecdotal evidence. After just reading the chapter containing some of the most efficient transfer policies in football, a mixture of the findings of Peter Taylor and Brian Clough and the board of Lyon 12 rules have been devised. So I thought it would be a good idea to see if we can play as Lyon abiding by what rules here that we can.
Within the book Simon Kuper and Stefan Szymanski talk to Lyon managing director Jean-Michel Aulas and consult Peter Taylor’s memoirs, these were the most efficient rules they devised;
- A new manager wastes money on transfers; don’t let him
- Use the wisdom of crowds
- Stars of recent World Cups or European Championships are overvalued; ignore them
- Certain nationalities are overvalued
- Older players are overvalued
- Centre-forwards are overvalued; goalkeepers are undervalued
- Gentlemen prefer blonds; identify and abandon ‘sight-based prejudices’.
- The best time to buy a player is when he is in his early twenties (20-22)
- Sell any player when another club offers more than he is worth
- Replace your best players even before you sell them
- Buy players with personal problems, and then help them deal with their problems
- Help your players relocate
Those that are in bold will be the rules that I will look to keep too
A new manager wastes money
Football has become a game that only looks at the short-term. Managers are temps in the job and each time a new man comes in they ship out the old stars to put a mark on the team, bringing their own players in. This wastes money, as they often will buy players that aren’t needed.
With Lyon I will look carefully at the team that I inherit and will only buy players when they are needed and abide by the rest of the rules in place in order to buy the best possible players, but no over paying. I won’t rush out to buy players, neither look to throw away the cash available to me just because it is their. Lyon have seen many managers come through their door in recent years, all of which have to stick to the same culture.
Use wisdom of crowds
The theory that a diverse group of people can give you a better opinion then one expert. It can be hard to do this in Football Manager, I will approach this by consulting my virtual assistant manager on every potential signing, as well as scouts and a decent coach who will be able to give an expert advice.
The way in which Lyon do this is to have the Aulas and manager meet up, along with a few members of the coaching staff and scouting staff and will themselves discuss potential targets.
Stars of recent World Cups or European Championships are overvalued; ignore them
I won’t be using the international competitions as a gauge to buy players. Although I am not sure if players value or interest goes up within Football Manager after these competitions. It will be interesting to take a quick look at these competitions to see if this actually does have an effect I will be sure to post my analysis in due course.
It could be worth keeping away from these players during World Cup season, or just as Manchester United have done with Javier Hernandez, spot and buy these before they go to the World Cup.
Certain nationalities & older players are overvalued
English players are some of the most over-valued players in the world. Brazilians especially when they have come via Europe. The notion that someone who is Brazilian is obviously going to be a better footballer then a Swede is silly, but it is the impression that we have when we think of the nationality. Foreign managers in the Premier League have long complained at the expense of creating an English side.
Older players are also over-valued. They come in past the peak of their careers but are priced up due to their past triumphs. Therefore I will avoid to buy big older stars as they will be more expensive, won’t hold their value and will spend less time at the club.
Centre-forwards are over-valued; goalkeepers are under-valued
Gerard Houllier became very frustrated at Lyon in his time in charge because Jean-Michel Aulas refused to buy him a centre forward. But the goal getters who spend more time in the media as we perceive them to be the most important men on the pitch, as they get the goals which win games, ignoring that the rest of the team around them are just as important. I will keep the buying of centre-forward down to a minimum to save money, this will be made much easier by playing a 4-5-1/4-3-3 system with a lone striker. There was a time when I used to stockpile in this position, just to stop any other team from buying them.
The best time to buy players are when the are 20-22
You will have a better idea of a players current ability at 20 and if they will make it in the position that you want to make them in. Rarely will players become superstars at 18 and at 20 is when they are starting to mature into the players they are going to be, this is true in Football Manager too as you get a clearer idea of their attributes will lie.
I will set a couple of my scouts to only look for players of 20-25 in order to capture these talented youngster and get them at a cheaper price, but the greater certainty that they will are talented spending will be more efficient.
Sell any player when a club offers more then their value.
Every player has their price and if another team is prepared to pay this I will let him go. Good business in the transfer market which will allow me to sell players at the right price and bring in better players at a lower price will make the team much better and much more efficient.
Each transfer window I will review the squad and set a monetary value on what I think they are worth to the club specifying it in the transfer screen.
Readers question: or do you think I should use the preset value laid out by Football Manager?
If I get a bid come in that matches the value then I will sell them on with no hesitation. Doesn’t matter if they are our top goalscorer or not. Just like the stock market, I will look to buy players low and sell them high, a money making team will have more ability for success in the long-term.
Replace your best players even before you sell them
If any of my players are looking to be leaving any time soon I am going to make sure that I am scouting for a replacements at least a season before. This will allow me time to find who I want, bring them to the club and gel with the squad to be a ready replacement for those players who are looking like they will leave. Not replacing your best players before they leave will lead to panic buying. Something I have been known to do while playing Football Manager for these players. A classic example is when I bought Welition for Milan a centre forward, Brazilian and a panic buy. I broke a few rules in less then a couple of minutes signing him from Milan for £40m.
The rules have been found to be made by some of the most efficient clubs in the transfer market. As success has been linked to wage budgets, while the transfer market being a severely inefficient market for success, these rules have been devised in order to prevent Lyon (as well as Cloughie) from overspending and avoiding flops. Lyon have gone through a trophy winning patch bigger then many other club in Europe and while Cloughie was able to constantly over perform given the money he was spending, winning two promotions with Derby and a 2 European Cups with Nottingham Forest.
Why not read the book yourself;
Big shout out to Skacel as well who planted this article idea into my head after discussing the book with him