The Age-Utility matrix is (if you’ll excuse the self-important name) something I came up with to show squad balance across different age bands. By plotting the % of maximum minutes played (y axis) vs the age of each player (x axis), we can get an approximate idea of squad balance. For instance, it would be undesirable to be relying lots of older players playing a lot of minutes (especially without younger players ready to come in to replace them), because as they begin to decline as a result of normal ageing, they will need to be replaced. I have also included a marker for players on short term contracts (loans or single year deals) because, if continuity is desirable, then having lots of minutes devoted to players on short term deals is not wanted. Finally, there is also an indicator for an estimate of peak years based on the league average distribution of minutes. This is, of course, an estimate, as the age curve varies depending on myriad factors, such as position, injury history and the like.
Example: AFC Bournemouth
- We can see the majority of Bournemouth’s minutes are coming from peak age players, with few older players, perhaps a contributing factor to their success this season. Does this age balance allow Bournemouth to play at a higher intensity at times?
- There are also few loanees, with only Boruc playing a major role.
- Likewise, there is a clearly demarcated set of core players (top group) and squad options (middle/bottom). It is reasonable to suggest that Bournemouth’s team cohesion has also been a factor in their success so far this season.