Does Age Make a Difference in a Striker? | Football Manager Experiment

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Typically, when you search for a new player to join your team on Football Manager, age can be a big factor in whether or not you will sign them. I want to create an experiment that looks at two identical players in terms of attributes, but completely different ages. I want to find out whether age is a defining moment in the signing of a player.

In this particular experiment, I am going to create a player who would be suited to a lot of clubs. I will make him English, he will be 182 CM, either footed, a striker and weigh 80kg. I have made sure the player have no preferred moves.

I named the young player DTG Young and the older player DTG Old, just in case you couldn’t tell the difference of the identical players.

What I expect to see is two players flourish at their clubs and really be influential in the final third, with the younger player improving and the older player slowly dipping off in the second season. I expect them both to have very similar end of season statistics and really be the final piece to a teams puzzle.


Here are both the players in the database, with the correct attributes:

DTG Young

dtg young_ overview profile-3

DTG Old

DTG Old_ Overview Profile.png

 

The first thing I noticed was the interested clubs; this was quite surprising to me as both players had a current ability of 177. Both players had the exact same clubs interested, apart from the 18 year old had Atlanta United interested in him. I was, however, surprised that no foreign clubs were interested in both the players. I will continue to see if this changes as the save progresses.


First Clubs

DTG Young

DTG Young_ Overview Profile-4.png

The 18 year old signed a fantastic contract at Manchester City, just two days in to the save. He will remain at the club until 2023.

DTG Old

DTG Old_ Overview Profile-2.png

Ah, this is going to be fun isn’t it. Two players at the same club, fighting for possibly one spot. The 30 year old signed an enormous contract in comparison, which shows age usually implies experience, even though the 30 year old hasn’t had a club before, interesting. He will stay at the club until 2021, which is a 2 year reduced contact in comparison to the 18 year old, but what do you expect at that age?

What shocked me most about this, apart from Man City signing both of them – which could really affect my plan in this experiment – is that despite the old player being on an enormous wage, their player value is exactly the same.

It turns out that age really didn’t put Pep off from signing both players.


What Happens Now?

We sit patiently and hope that Manchester City play a two man strike force. If not, then it’s going to be very interesting who gets the starting position. That’s if they keep both, the 18 year old might be sent out on loan, but with his attributes this looks very unlikely.

Whilst I simulate the first season, I really hope that Man City play them both, or sell one. It would be challenging to get an immensely accurate representation of how both do. What this does do, is generate competition for the striker position, and will Man City chose youth or experience. It could be very interesting as to what really goes down in the next two seasons.


January (First Season)

I wasn’t planning on checking the players in January, but it seemed best, due to the nature of how the clubs have turned out. I am half expecting the younger player to be the back up, because his contract is not a fraction of what the 30 year old is.

What I am expecting to see is a massive jump in player value and reputation, perhaps England caps if the opportunity arises.

DTG Young

DTG Young_ Overview Profile-5.png

The 18 year old has been extremely busy. A Community Shield win, first England call up and 15 goals in just 25 starts, 3 off the bench is quite incredible. What does concern me is in those games he has failed to complete two due to being sent off. Does this mean that age might be a bigger factor in to decisions, or just the roll of the dice in terms of luck?

DTG Old

dtg old_ overview profile-3

The 30 year old has been less involved, but still a very important member of the Manchester City setup. His value has sky rocketed in comparison to the 18 year old, despite playing fewer games. One massive positive from this situation is that he is only 6 goals short of equalling the 18 year old’s goal tally, despite playing a lot less minutes.

Player Value:
DTG Young – £16.25M
DTG Old – £31M

The role the 18 year old has is now a ‘key player’ and the 30 year old’s status at the club is ‘first team’. I wonder what will happen at the end of the season, I would be very surprised if we see any movement from other clubs to snap up these players.

Man City currently lead the Premier League which comes as no surprise, due to the sheer nature of the offensive presence which has two absolutely outstanding players added.


End of First Season

With the form that Man City were in it is a surprise that they didn’t win the Premier League. Liverpool won the league on the last day of the season, where Man United beat Man City 3-0. Man City won the Community Shield trophy at the beginning of the season.

DTG Young

DTG Young_ Overview Profile-6.png

A season to remember for the 18 year old, 22 goals, 7 assists and 6 man of the match awards in 39 starts. The Wonderkid has definitely made an impact in his first season, and this form has been rewarded with a new contract. He will now stay at the club for an extra year, but at £180k a week. He is now a regular in the England team.

He has learnt a new player trait and now ‘runs with ball rarely’. His discipline improved and has not been sent off since January. I believe next season he is only going to get better, and really hit the ground running.

DTG Old

DTG Old_ Overview Profile-4.png

The 30 year old had a good season, despite being a back up to the 18 year old. He has failed to make a single start for the England national team. Since January he has only scored 3 goals, and is on a slight decline. He hasn’t been offered a contract extension but still has 2 years left on his contract which is good, although it would be good if he left to play regular football.

It doesn’t look like either player will be sold, due to their influence in the team. This is a bit of a shame as the experiment I had planned both players to be at separate clubs, however, it really goes to show what a manager’s recruitment and style can do to a team. You may have noticed that the 30 year old has been retrained as an attacking midfielder to add an extra dimension, and forcing both players to play in the same setup.

What I can tell you from the statistics shown in both pictures, both are heavily involved with first team football.


Beginning of Season Two

After the summer of international fixtures, the 30 year old (now 31) picked up an injury which will see him miss anywhere between 3 and 6 weeks. Looking back at both the players in season 1, they both missed about two weeks worth of football due to injuries over the whole of the season which is impressive.

As I mentioned in the summary of season one, I expect to see a bigger influence from the 18 year old (now 19). I believe this season he will come on leaps and bounds and improve. I also believe the 31 year old will play in a slightly deeper role, if Man City are short on numbers.

I can confirm that during the beginning of the season Man City win the Community Shield again, making it 3 trophies in 12 months, not bad.

Pep Guardiola was sacked by Man City and took over Tottenham at the end of the season, which led to Diego Simeone taking over the Manchester based club. Will this influence the team selection or will the conventional 4-2-3-1 be used, like the previous year.


January (Season Two)

As we approach January I was expecting the young player to outperform the old player. It looks like Diego Simeone has kept the system of 4-2-3-1 so both of them were fighting for the striking position.

DTG Young

dtg young_ overview profile-7

The young player has played more games than this point last season, which I kind of expected, especially with an International tournament approaching. At this point he has played 30 games, where as he only played 25 games at this stage last season.

He had 10 goals in the Premier League at this point last season, he now has 11 goals at the same stage. However, when looking closer he has played more goals and only scored 1 more goal, only missing 3 games, due to injury.

His value has sky rocketed and is at £69 million, which is a massive leap from a year ago which was £16.25 million.

DTG Old

DTG Old_ Overview Profile-5.png

The older player has not been involved in barely anything, and I half expected him to be sold. He, however, wasn’t and has been on the injury table for a part of the season, which has jeopardised his opportunity at starting.

His value has plummeted from the start of the season, which is no surprise considering he hasn’t been playing. It would have been nice if he did move on from Man City, but the season is still young and he may leave at the end of the season.

Player Value:
DTG Young – £69M
DTG Old – £44.5M

The player values have completely swapped round and the young player is now worth more than the older play. This was expected, but if the older play was playing I believe his value would be higher, which is a bit of a shame.


End of Second Season

The older player signed a two year extension at the club, which was a bit of a surprise. I was expecting him to leave and move on for the remainder of his career. Although his attributes have declined, he still looks a top player.

Man City won the Premier League, lost in the Semi Final of the Champions League to Real Madrid and lost the final of the FA Cup 2-1 against Arsenal.

What surprised me most was Sergej Milinkovic-Savic was the top goal scorer. He scored 21 times, where the younger player scored 20. Sergej is a midfielder, that worries me.

DTG Young

DTG Young_ Overview Profile-8.png

The 19 year old was key to the trophies won in both seasons. He scored 20 goals this season, assisting 6. He has also learnt a new trait ‘places shots’ which will potentially be beneficial.

 

DTG Old

DTG Old_ Overview Profile-6.png

The older player has learnt a player trait and now places shots. I was very surprised that the old player signed a new contract, as he’d only been involved in 16 games all season. His contract is reduced in terms of wages and they now pay him £175k a week, if that was me, I would have tried to seal a move elsewhere.

His attributes have declined, as expected but is still a very good back up.


Analysis

DTG Young_ Comparison Player Comparison.png

Firstly, I want to compare both players at the end of the two seasons and look at any similarities or patterns occurring. I didn’t add any potential or anything, so unlikely to see any improvements in terms of mental or technical. It is the physical which has changed the most, even weight.

Details

I have created a spreadsheet to clearly see the differences in each season. Obviously there are several factors which come in to play regarding the player development, but it is important that I show you this analysis.

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This is the easiest way to compare both the players. Where you see the | it means at January, so in the first season the younger player signed a new contract worth £180k a week so I have listed that, and his value sky rocketed.

I also show the appearances and goals in a season, if there’s any correlation. There really isn’t that much, but I think the older player did well in the games he played in. Even though in the second season he only featured 16 times compare to the younger player who played 45 times.

Both players value really increased a lot, which surprised me. I was expecting the older player to sort of decline but in the second season it shot up.

To make this a little bit easier to understand the left orange column is the default attributes. The Green is the younger player and the red is the older player. In order to see the difference in attributes I created two columns in each symbolising each year. The red box around the attributes show a decline, the orange shows that it is the same.

Technical

technical

I was surprised in the decline of the younger player, who is approaching his twentieth birthday. He declined in one area, which I expected to go up, if anything. As expected the older player declined, but only so slightly, in two areas where he lost 2 points in each.

Mental

mental

Looking at mental’s I was surprised, again. I had expected there to be more movement in terms of changes but there wasn’t. In the first year the younger players bravery was subsidised but then returned to its default value. The older player declined in bravery, but it took until the second season for this to happen.

Physical

physcial

This is where it gets a bit more exciting. The younger player had absolutely no problems in any department, but the older player did. I was surprised at how quick they went down, considering the natural fitness of the player. His acceleration took a 3 hit in two years, which for a striker is a worry, depending on his role. Agility took a 3 decline, balance 1, jumping reach, strength, natural fitness remained the same. Stamina reduced to 15 from 19 and pace went from 16 to 13.

I was not expecting such a decline because 30 is not exactly the age where everything goes downhill, but for this particular experiment this was false. I can see in some ways why he wasn’t being played, however, if he was played more would these attributes be the same. I would expect them to be slightly higher due to his match fitness.


Conclusion

As you can probably imagine I was not expecting Man City to sign both the players, which made this a little harder to conclude. However, both players got a fair amount of game time and it shows that AI Managers are more prone to signing a younger player than an older player with the exact same attributes.

Both players eventually were on massive contracts and pivotal. The older not as much, but definitely did his job when required.

To me this experiment has been interesting, it’s allowed the younger player to really make that spot his own and the older player has been over looked. That being said, it’s important to remember if these were at different clubs, the outcome may be different.

Due to the nature of the way this experiment has turned out, It is hard to create a conclusion which isn’t along the lines of:

The younger player got a bigger opportunity at the club, which left the older player to be a bench warmer. Despite his age, he could play for almost any club in the world. The decline in attributes are not as great as I expected and the 31 year old is still a very well accomplished striker.

If I was to create another experiment but for two players with slightly less ability, in a different position, it might open up more opportunities for these players to blossom in separate teams.

I wouldn’t disregard the older player, although his initial contract is greater than the younger player, if Man City had signed the older player and not the younger it would have allowed the older player to lead the line.

I personally will be looking at this in a bit more detail, as I am very interested in the older player being trained to be an attacking midfielder and the younger one was not.

Obviously if both of these players were free agents you would chose the younger player as he is likely to improve or stay at the club longer, but picking up the old player to be a mentor could equally have this effect long term.

Ultimately age does make a difference. Both Pep and Diego preferred the younger version of the player, as did Gareth Southgate. I wonder why?

I really do hope you enjoyed this article, depending on the interest I will be creating another similar experiment for different positions and abilities to see if there is more proof of age being an important factor.


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