Small Clubs Need Scouts (and Analysts) the Most

Following up on my previous post, “Big Clubs Need Scouts (and Analysts) the Most”, I want to make the case that small clubs also need scouts (and analysts) the most.

Small clubs have a couple of disadvantages compared to Big ClubsTM that makes scouting/analytics more important. Specifically, small clubs have less money than their counterparts, so presumably they would have a harder time writing off a mistake. Manchester City can choose not to start Raheem Sterling, United can choose to bench Memphis Depay, but it’s much harder for a smaller club to justify benching a major summer signing. The opportunity cost is potentially higher for smaller clubs – signing a new striker in season 1 makes the justification for signing a replacement striker in season 2 much more difficult.

Additionally, there is less information out there about the players smaller clubs are trying to sign. There’s no shortage of opinions on which striker Manchester United should sign to replace Wayne Rooney: any number of a dozen options would likely work fairly well (although see my previous post for why this is a problem). While Aston Villa would likely benefit from signing Robert Lewandowski, he’s not a realistic transfer option for them. Analysts can find a list of potential targets that would be within reach for the club, and scouts can fill in all the blanks to pick the best option.

The consequences of a bad signing might be even higher for smaller clubs. If Manchester City isn’t happy with Raheem Sterling’s performance, they can play either Fabian Delph and Jesus Navas in his place. Maybe that puts them a step behind Arsenal, and they lose in the first knockout round of the UCL, but they’re still comfortably make the top 4 next year. But a team like Newcastle is possibly one bad signing away from relegation. Each signing has greater pressure to be a success and fit into the squad, and a failure (combined with the opportunity cost of buying another player mentioned before) could have significant consequences.

I would think this is all self-evident, but teams will gladly spend millions of dollars on players while finding savings in the most important area: information. My undergrad American Government professor said something that always stuck with me: “Every decision is easy if you have the right information.” The goal is to gather the right information, and a proper budget for analysts and scouts can help do that. There are plenty of places teams can find efficiencies, but a proper analytics and scouting department will give you a positive ROI as well as success on the pitch.

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