I recently saw this graphic summarizing trends in the age profile of our squad:
Full article here: http://thepowerofgoals.blogspot.com/2017/10/premier-league-age-profiles-through-ages.html
Two interesting things:
(1) Look at all of the playing time given to peak-age players in our best seasons. (A lot, which is good.)
(2) Look at the playing time given to peak-age players in the most recent seasons. (Less than the 30+ year olds. Woof.)
I think this highlights what an awful job we've done with the squad since the final years of Moyes' tenure. It was one thing for Moyes to squeeze every last bit out of those players (he earned the right to do this for a couple of years after carefully assembling them) but our subsequent managers have tried to do the same with mixed results (and I think that's being kind). Think about how long we relied on the likes of Distin, Howard, Pienaar, Jagielka, Baines, and [not a Moyes player but still] Barry without ever really lining up proper replacements. This is partly Martinez's fault but it also raises some red flags w/r/t our recruitment under Koeman/Walsh:
Williams (bought at age 31, likely to decline)
Bolasie (bought at age 27, likely to give 2 peak seasons)
Schneiderlin (bought at 27, likely to give 2 peak seasons)
Sigurdsson (bought at 27, likely to give 2 peak seasons)
Rooney (bought at age 31, likely to decline)
You can make one or two of those deals but it's irresponsible to do all of them, especially Williams (with his most likely partner being 34 already) and Sigurdsson (given the price and the fact that we had already signed Klaassen and Rooney). We aimed for the sweet spot with a few signings this summer (Klaassen, Pickford, Keane are all early peak or about to enter peak) and we have no shortage of young attackers with potential (even though Koeman hates most of them) but there seems to be a general lack of planning around transfers. (And that's before we consider that a lot of the players we bought don't look like they belong on the pitch together.)
We can complain all we like about tactics and the manager (who's probably had a hand in at least some of this) but our transfer policy is what's going to kill us long-term. Walsh needs to sort it the fuck out or Moshiri needs to hire someone who can.
I'm not entirely sure how that's what you see from that. From my perspective Moyes left us with an aging squad, most of the talented ones, were over 30. In Moyes last few seasons, nearly half the team is over 30. In his last season, we had lowest amount of under 24s of his time here and very little in terms of assets.
Martinez sold Fellaini, Anichebe, Jelavic, got Deulofeu, Lukaku on loan, played Barkley, Stones and had £10m profit. Second window he spent pretty much entire budget getting Lukaku permanently. Last summer here, bought 9 players only 1 over 25. Since Koeman and Walsh have come in, we've sold several of the younger players and bought older players. But Walsh didn't decide to sell any of them, and the players he's bought have been around start of 'peak years'.
We have been buying quality youngsters as well, Vlasic looks experienced and could be special, Sandro is still adapting but big potential, Lookman is very talented, DCL just needs to score a few, could be long term solution, Onyekuru looks seriously talented. Bolasie, Coleman, Funes Mori all out with long term injuries would be players in peak years. Barkley out and soon off. Besic, McCarthy both had injury problems.
But I think under Moyes and Martinez we only paid money for well priced talent, otherwise it was youngsters or stop gaps. With Koeman and Walsh, the feeling was that the money would swash about and land some more marquee signings. But clubs across continent wanted big money and there's not a huge list of players who would obviously have improved us and wanted to come.
We have probably spent about as much in last year and a bit, as we had historically before that. Moyes would be saying we'll go with what we've got, Martinez would have said they have phenomenal potential, Koeman doesn't seem to want half the team and the half the team he does want, doesn't want to play for him.
I think there is truth that Martinez inherited a solid defence and was able to add flexibility to a organised unit, but it became disorganised. Koeman inherited a talented young team and huge resources, but we've sold the best players and struggle to replace, Stones, Barkley, Lukaku with players with same talent or potential.
It's expected that woth more money we can have a bigger squad and be less reliant on youngsters and olders players. But prior to Koeman and the money, that was a luxury we couldn't afford. I don't see a huge amount of influence from Koeman on a lot of youngster signings. I see it more with the squad players and a few of the main signings, but if he knows who he wants, we had the money. If he doesn't know who he wants, but he wants something special, he has the potential, if he wants reliable, we have experience, if players aren't working we have better youngsters to fill in and show effort.
I see the problem as similar to Spurs when they sold Bale, in that DoF bought a list of talented players and it wasn't easy or obvious for manager how they fit together or which options is best or will be best long term. We have a lot of options, but that probably confuses things further. But that's more reason to not end up with a team that looks empty, a month or 2 into the season.
I see our transfers as always having been pretty good, some won't work and some take time. But we didn't have a lot of players left that Koeman wanted, we replaced over half the first team and that high turnover of players means it will take some time to adapt and others time to develop. Understandable that Koeman wants results now, but it's always taken time for best new players to find their feet. Recruitment could have gone better, but I don't see what we left on the table. We identified lots of talent and part of the coaches job is to help develop and mould them into a team, he has better options than previous managers.