It has not been a great start to the season for either of Liverpool’s two clubs. But do the blue or red half of the city have the upper-hand in the long-run? Sean Curtin investigates.
For two teams who promised so much in the run up to the end of last season, the current season has been a bit of a wet towel. Liverpool have sorely missed the presence of everyone’s favourite biting-Uruguayan whilst Everton’s £28 million splurge on Romelu Lukaku has yet to fully live up to the price tag.
While it’s unfair to judge their performances this season, what can we learn from the squads, management and finances that may suggest which way the pendulum of dominance will swing over the next few years on Merseyside?
Average squad age is a useful way to measure the longevity a squad of players generally has. Of course transfers in and out from season to season will affect this but generally a sign of a long-term health is a squad that has yet to reach it’s peak.
Most would agree professional footballers in the Premier League reach their full potential at the age of 27. We crunched the numbers so who comes out on top?
As you can see from the data, both clubs have squads that are ageing. The key difference though is that Liverpool have yet to reach their peak. Over the last three seasons Liverpool’s young squad have aged from 22.8 years on average up to 25.8. This suggest the Liverpool squad on average, has its best years ahead of it.
The Everton squad meanwhile is going backwards. The squad had been ageing well on average, last season with an average age of 25.9 you could tell they were a team playing near their peak, coming so close to Champions League football as a result.
But recent acquisitions like Samuel Eto’o have seen the average age head over 27 and into decline, this season it stands at 28.4.
Both clubs are managed by young bosses, both known for playing attractive attacking football with a propensity to ship goals at the back. But which manager takes the win on this occasion?
Martinez certainly has more experience. The Spaniard has managed 350+ professional games at the time of writing, starting out all the way down in League One with Swansea City. At Swansea Martinez racked up a 50% win rate. He completely turned around the fortunes of the club and nearly went on to secure a Championship spot for the Swans in year one. Instead he would have to wait another year.
His next stop was a move to Wigan, there he managed to stave off relegation repeatedly with one of the smallest wage bills in the league. Academic studies have found a very high correlation between wage bill and league position, the highest usually finishes first, the lowest age bill generally goes down.
At Wigan with the third smallest wage bill Martinez consistently outperformed the cash he had to work with. The run couldn’t last forever and eventually Wigan went down at the end of the 2012/13 season, though they did clinch the FA Cup. Martinez’s talent did not go unnoticed and he filled the void at Everton left by the departing Moyes.
Roberto’s time at Everton has so far been successful, the club came so close to a Champions League spot last season. His signings have proven adept and his knowledge extensive, Barcelona’s Gerard Delofeu played an important role on loan last season and they secured a permanent deal for Romelu Lukaku.
Rodgers has also enjoyed success at Swansea. Under his management he led the side to the Premier League. However he’s had mixed results elsewhere. Previous to Swansea he had a successful period at Watford, followed by a spate at Reading that culminated in Brendan leaving by mutual consent.
At Liverpool he came oh-so-close to a first Premier League last year but has guided them back to the bright lights of Champions League football.
Which one comes out on top? Martinez has nearly 100 more professional games managed. As a result he’s lost and drawn slightly more games than Rodgers but only marginally. Given the miracle work he did at Wigan and his ability to identify talent and get the most out of a small squad, the Spaniard takes this one, but only just.
Outlook for the future
Both teams have plans to either expand or build new stadiums. Everton have ran into considerably less trouble in their efforts. They appear to be in line to build a new stadium just minutes away from Goodison Park. Liverpool council seem open to the idea and it has so far faced less opposition than Liverpool’s previous efforts.
Liverpool failed in their attempts to build a new stadium but have now decided to renovate Anfield. The club await planning permission but they face less opposition than their “Stanley-Park’ stadium application.
Financially Liverpool have benefited greatly from their impressive form last season, earning more TV revenue than they had expected. If they can retain a Champions League spot this will widen the financial gap they have on Everton.
Everton on the other hand operate on a far more constrained budget. Their owner, Bill Kenwright has ran the club excellently, having shrewdly managed finances and selected managers who can work to a strict budget.
Liverpool meanwhile are in a much more comfortable position as their global fan-base is a huge asset that Everton do not yet possess. Their return to the UCL along with marketable players such as Steven Gerrard provide serious financial muscle.
Both clubs have bright futures that’s for sure. However with Liverpool’s younger squad, and global marketability they remain in the driving seat it would appear. The city of Liverpool looks set to host two great teams with bright futures but sorry Toffees fans, the final verdict must be a marginal win for Liverpool.
Sean Curtin, Pundit Arena.