Finally-Proof That Being Tall Is No Guarantee of Success

By Davies, Hunter | New Statesman (1996), April 4, 2011 | Go to article overview

Finally-Proof That Being Tall Is No Guarantee of Success


Davies, Hunter, New Statesman (1996)


I had never heard of the PFPO until last week. It sounds like an advertising agency or a liberating army. Turns out it stands for Professional Football Players Observatory and is a Fifa-backed group of academics who publish reports on European football.

Football academics? Loads of them these days, churned out by universities all over the shop, giving degrees and funding PhD research. And about time, too.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

The study analysed details of players at 534 clubs in 36 European nations. What got the sports section of the Sunday Times excited was the PFPO's revelation that Man United has the most settled squad in Europe--the average Man United first-team player having been at the club for nearly six years. Barcelona came third for stability, while Chelsea also ranked high.

It led the ST to the triumphant conclusion that "the longer players stay at a club, the more stable first-team success becomes". This stability appears to give them "a competitive edge over their rivals".

Now, we all know that poor old, rich old Man City is the Prem's least stable club, with most of the team still strangers to each other--no idea which country they are in, what they are supposed to do, where the lavatory is--and they have won nowt for ages. But to say that lack of stability is the cause of their lack of trophies is bollocks. It's the other way round. Lack of success has led to instability--made worse by their having trillions to throw around, and madly, wildly trying to put things right.

Secrets of success

Successful clubs can afford to be stable, because they are obviously doing something right. They don't need to sell their best players, who don't want to leave anyway, though of course players grow old, stale, lame and useless and there has to be a continual process of regeneration at even the most stable of clubs.

The other revelation, hum hum, is that the English Prem has the biggest number of expat players--58.4 per cent- of any major league in Europe. Tell us something we haven't noticed. …

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