Squad age profiles: 31 Dec 2017
Another graphic I wanted to update at the end of 2017 is the age profiles, which give a compact and colourful look at the age of players deployed by each club. Hopefully they’re fairly self-explanatory, but here’s a quick summary anyway:
For each club I’ve added up all the league minutes played by every player this season and calculated the percentage accumulated by players of every age, rolling up “18 and under” and “35 and over” for neatness’ sake.
Each vertical “step” on a club’s chart is a year, with the major age milestones denoted by slightly thicker lines (as per the labels on the left). The width of the coloured graph at each step corresponds to the percentage of minutes accounted for by players of that age.
I haven’t labelled the percentage values as the graphs were already getting pretty busy and I figured that the general shape and proportions were sufficient to compare teams against each other. I may revisit this (and a few other tweaks) later in the season once I’ve done a bit more tinkering.
I’ve also calculated the average age of each club’s starting line-ups this season and used this to sort all the clubs in a division from oldest to youngest.
Hopefully that’s enough to give you the idea, so let’s dive in.
West Brom have been comfortably the oldest side in the top flight this season, with less than 3% of their playing minutes being racked up by players under the age of 26. They’ve also been the only team to name a starting 11 with an average age of over 30 this season, which they’ve done four times.
While Brighton also look to be putting their faith in experience, the other two promoted sides – Newcastle and Huddersfield – have put out much younger line-ups. The Magpies may be the youngest on average but the Terriers have given the fewest minutes to players in their 30s: just over 1%.
Burnley and Southampton are the only two teams yet to field a player aged 21 or younger this season. Nobody under the age of 24 has featured for the Clarets.
Derby have named the oldest starting line-ups in the top four divisions on average at 29.5 years, and along with Burton are one of the only two Championship clubs to name a starting 11 with an average age of over 30. The Rams are also one of two teams in the top four divisions to have given over half of their league minutes to players aged over 30 (just under 57%, second only to Wycombe in League 2).
Cardiff are the only club not to have fielded a player aged 21 or under in a league game this season, although Derby have given less than an hour’s playing time to players in this age bracket.
At the other end of the scale, Barnsley are the youngest side by quite some distance and the youngest in the top four divisions overall. The Tykes are yet to name a starting line-up with an average age of over 25 and are also the only club in the top four divisions not to have fielder a player in their 30s so far, with under 9% of their playing minutes going to anyone over the age of 25.
Southend have been the oldest team in League 1 so far and the only club to start 11 players in a match with an average age of over 30. Less than 9% of their league minutes have gone to players aged under 25, although Plymouth have given the fewest to those aged 21 or under.
Bradford are an interesting case – they may not be the oldest team on average but they’ve used the highest proportion of players in their 30s. This has been counterbalanced by some much younger players, but there’s barely anyone at what you’d call “peak age” i.e. 26-28.
Fleetwood have put out the youngest sides overall and are the only club in the division yet to name a starting 11 with an average age of over 25. In fact Nathan Pond and Chris Neal are the only players over 27 to have featured for them in League 1 this season.
Promotion challengers Wycombe have fielded the oldest group of players in the division so far – they and Grimsby are the only two teams to have started a match with a group of 11 players aged over 30 on average. The Chairboys have also given the highest percentage of playing minutes to over 30s of any club in the top four divisions: a shade under 60%.
Mansfield are the only club in the division – and one of only two in the EFL (the other being Cardiff) – yet to give a player aged 21 or under any league football this season.
It turns out that each EFL division has one team who have yet to name a starting 11 with an average age of over 25: in League 2 it’s Colchester, who have also been the youngest side overall.