Every football squad is made up of 5 categories of players
- First-team regulars who fit the system
- Squad players who offer reasonable cover
- Young players who may develop into category (1) or (2) players but aren’t yet ready
- Players who do not fit into the clubs future plans for tactical, ability, or fitness reasons.
- Players from categories (1) and (2) who are financially unaffordable
Players can move between categories over time. A first-team regular in the Premier League can quickly become a (5) after relegation. A (3) can quickly become a (1) or (2) as they develop, but most will become a (4).
Most clubs will have 40-70 players on professional contracts depending on the level they play at, and probably at most 25 will be in categories (1) and (2) and at any time there may be well over 50% of paid players who the club knows will never play for the first-team.
A very useful exercise for any club to perform is to create a simple spreadsheet scoring system for the squad as a whole.
At MRKT Insights we use a “Squad Score” as a snapshot of the structure of a team.
This system works by assigning a score to each player:
0 – The player is well suited to the role within the system
1 – The player is adequate for a role but could be improved upon
2 – The player is not suitable for a role within our system.
Wage score – clubs set the bands at levels to reflect their circumstances
0 – The player is paid in band 1 (a very low wage usually for youth players)
1 – The player is paid in band 2 (the wage band for developing players and squad cover)
2 – The player is paid in band 3 (the wage band for squad members and first-teamers)
3 – The player is paid in band 4 ( first-team regulars at the max level club is happy to pay)
4 – The player is paid more than the top of band 4
0 – The player has more than 18 months left on their contract
1 – The player has fewer than 18 months left on their contract
0 – A perfectly suited player receives zero points, if they are on a high wage this will be accounted for by the wage score.
8 – An unsuitable player (score 2) on a very high wage (score 4) will receive a maximum of 8 points (2*4) to reflect this.
Style + Wage + Contract + Value = Player Score
In this system we want individual players to be scoring a maximum of 4 to be considered good value.
Player scores for the best paid 25 players = Squad Score
Squad score should, therefore, be <100 for us to consider the Squad to be well constructed. A score of 55-85 is probably ideal for a competitive team.
Why just the best paid 25?
For us, it is about setting a baseline to work from. It allows us to compare the squad when we start working with a club to further down the line. We want to be consistently adding suitable players on reasonable wages. We can benchmark it against rival clubs too, and keeping it to 25 players allows for fair comparisons.