‘On paper they look a good side’; we all say this from time to time but often we don’t look at the bigger team picture and the importance of it. The Swans have been good this season, surprisingly good considering the lack of experience but that lack of experience could well have been a blessing.
There was a restart button at the start of the campaign where the whole dressing room dynamics needed to be rewritten and the youngsters had no option but to become men.There is a lot to be said about young players in a team, Garry Neville has always spoken about the importance of bringing those players through, not just for the future but for the now. We too often forget that players are also people with lives outside of football. Your early 20s are generally a lot more ‘care-free’- than your early 30s and that will inevitably affect your profession; whether a footballer or a binman.
Form, whether good or bad is majorly affected by what is going on in a players wider world. How the wife is, how the kids are settled in school, how the family is etc… it all plays a major role and players mature, priorities change as things happen.
At present the Swans have a bulk of key players who are of an age prior to marriage and kids (lucky bastards!) and ‘on paper’ we assume that as they gain experience and enter the magical late twenties then they will be better players; because we all know that late twenties is when players are at their best…………………….
The stats disagree, Soccernomics (my favourite book) and WhoScore.com ratings guide suggests that strikers peak at 25, defenders at 27 and midfielders in-between the two. The Swans average age this season is 25.3. Interestingly the average age of a World Cup player is 29.5, we tend to like ‘proven players’ and managers do too.Wilfried Bony is 30 years old, according to the World Cup rule then he’s at his prime, according to stats he is 5 years past his best.
Physically there may be little difference, technically too, experience should make him better than his 25 year old self but he clearly isn’t. Why?The reality is that nobody knows but if you look through Bony’s twitter feed over the last five years then the man has clearly changed, matured and evolved. In his recent tweets he is incredibly thankful to god, over the last 12 months, pretty much every tweet has a religious undertone to it which wasn’t the case to the same extent beforehand.
On 30th July 2018 he posted RIP to his ‘Daddy’. £100,000 a week or £20,000 a year is irrelevant with the massive things that happen within our lives; births, deaths, marriages, divorces, illnesses. Players hit form, they lose form, the Swans young care-free squad are likely to have all this to come and it is far from inevitable that they will get through it all without it effecting their profession.