In behavioural economics there’s a concept called ‘scarcity’. Boiling it down to over-simplified terms, it says that if you lack something – time or money for example – you’re less able to make good decisions. That’s why people on low incomes can struggle to be sensible with their spending, or why people on gameshows blurt out ridiculous answers when the clock starts ticking.
It couples with the standard laws of supply and demand – the more people that want a finite resource, the more it’ll cost – to create some bizarre outcomes. Say, a pony-tailed English-born centre forward with half a good season under his belt, and a price of £35million.
The imposition of a transfer window created this sense of scarcity of time. With all transfer business hemmed into two short periods of the year, buying clubs begin the process with that countdown clock already ticking in their heads, that scarcity of time already playing on their decision making. Selling clubs, on the other hand, know that the louder that ticking gets, the higher the price will ratchet – understandably, they bide their time.
The transfer window is a perfect example of a change in regulation which had unintended consequences once the behaviour of people was taken into account. The window was intended to stop teams chopping and changing players throughout the season, and to prevent bigger clubs from constantly poaching talent. A secondary purpose was to encourage teams to bring through homegrown talent – the logic being, if a team knows it can’t bring someone in at a moments notice, they’ll pay more attention to their squad depth.
Well, they do, but not quite in the way the authorities might have expected. Arsene Wenger points to the transfer window as forcing managers to in fact be more conservative with their squads. Wenger’s argument was that young players are a gamble and football is a results business – you might go a month with a player trying to prove themselves, but if it doesn’t work out you don’t want to be lumbered with them until the window opens in another three months’ time. Because of that, development spots in a top flight squad are going to be limited, and only the dead certainties for a starting berth will find themselves with a regular slot.
Of course, much of that pressure for results comes from fans. Here there’s another behavioural concept called the ‘peak/end effect’. This one says that you remember extreme cases, and the most recent cases and base your judgement on those alone, not on the whole body of evidence. This is where the football fan’s famously fickle mindset comes from – you remember the misplaced pass, but forget the previous 20 that were completed without fanfare.
At the end of a season, you remember the 5-0 home victory, and the 6-0 away defeat, but you forget all the 0-0 draws in the cold and the rain that came with them.
That explains why you keep buying a season ticket.
Habit and social norms also play a role here. If you bought a season ticket last year, and the year before and the year before – you’re more likely to let inertia carry you into buying one this year too. Even though deep down you know your dreams are unlikely to come true. And if everyone who sits around you is buying one again, and so is everyone you drink with before the match and everyone you talk about it with at work the next day, you’re more likely to get one yourself.
We are at our base level social creatures – that’s why we live in cities, feel safest in family units, and why we always park next to the only other car in the car park. That camaraderie, sense of community and sense of identity, are powerful motivators.
All of which is to say that almost no one in football, from owners down to fans, is a rational actor. We’re all acting and making decisions under the influence of some form of bias, which because this is football, tends to stack up to the same slightly irrational belief that this is gonna be our year.
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Keanan Bennetts has perfect opportunity to impress Mauricio Pochettino this week
The left-sided star has a chance to impress in first-team training during the international break.
With the international week in full flow, plenty of teams in the Premier League have seen their squads diminished by call-ups to national teams.
Tottenham Hotspur are one such side. Nonetheless, with most of the first-team squad away with their respective nations, work continues at Hotspur Way.
In order for Spurs to have a full complement in training, plenty of young talent needs to be pulled in to the ranks.
Mauricio Pochettino will, therefore,e get a chance to see some of his young players training with regular first-team players such as Fernando Llorente, Erik Lamela and Lucas Moura.
One player who will be training with the first-team this week is talented wide-man Keanan Bennetts, according to London Live.
The 19-year-old left-winger has been catching the eye for the club’s youth team in recent weeks, making the news after scoring a fantastic goal for the under-19s against Monaco in the UEFA Youth League last month.
Bennetts has also been attracting interest for his positional dexterity. The wide-man has played at left-back in recent times and it could be that is his future best position.
This week he will be up against some excellent players such as Lamela and Moura, who did not receive selection to the Argentina and Brazil national teams, respectively.
If he can prove himself with this calibre of player, Pochettino will have to take notice.
It is coming to a point in his Tottenham career when Bennetts has to make such an impact. The teenager is out of contract at Spurs in the summer and needs to ensure he is kept on for at least one more season.
Tottenham fans who follow the youth teams are certain he is deserving of such a chance. If he can show Pochettino what he is capable of this week, then a new deal will surely be in the pipeline for the talented wide-man.
Despite improvement, Everton should not rekindle Thomas Vermaelen interest
The Belgian defender has been in better form for Barcelona this season.
Rumours have emerged today suggesting Everton could be back in for Belgian defender Thomas Vermaelen.
Catalan newspaper Sport has reported that the 32-year-old could be offered a new deal by Barcelona, with a team from the Premier League interested in signing him.
Sport Witness has openly hypothesised that Everton could be that team. Whilst there is no confirmation or substantiated report that is the case, the boot certainly fits.
Last summer Everton tried to sign Vermaelen.
As reported by the Liverpool Echo, at the time Barcelona vetoed a loan move to Everton as they felt the defender could be a useful asset.
The Belgian certainly has. After struggling with injuries and form throughout most of his Barcelona tenure the former Arsenal man has enjoyed a good season.
The 32-year-old has been a genuine asset to the Catalans, despite still being used sparingly, and such form has even seen him win back a place in Roberto Martinez’s national selection for Belgium.
If it is Everton interested in Vermaelen it is easy to see why. Centre-back has been a major problem for the club this season.
However, Vermaelen, or a player of his ilk, is not the answer to the Toffees’ woes.
The Belgian is obviously a talented player with plenty of experience, but Everton need to freshen up their back-line.
Ashley Williams and Phil Jagielka’s age has shown in recent months.
The pair have been, at the best, inconsistent for the past 18 months and Everton need fresh young talent in the heart of defence if they are to succeed.
Vermaelen is not only 32 but also immensely injury prone. Everton need reliable figures to plug their leaky defences and the Belgian can simply not be relied upon.
Whilst on paper it seems a good deal, and one Everton could certainly turn to their benefit.
The truth is supporters of the Goodison Park outfit will hope they are not the club reportedly keen on bringing Vermaelen back to the Premier League.
Have West Ham United found the next Mark Noble in Alfie Lewis?
The 18-year-old put in a fine performance against Dagenham and Redbridge this week.
West Ham United took on Dagenham and Redbridge in a friendly yesterday, in a match to raise funds for the National League side.
It was no surprise to see West Ham come out victorious. They won 3-1, with Michail Antonio at the double and Jordan Hugill scoring his first goal for the club.
It was, however, a Hammers team depleted by international selection.
With that in mind, David Moyes’ side fielded some of their younger players. Plenty of them caught the eye, but none more so than central midfielder Alfie Lewis.
The 18-year-old put in a fine display for 90 minutes which left West Ham fans very excited on social media.
It was an even more special achievement given Lewis spent most of last year on the sidelines with a serious knee injury.
Lewis himself told the official West Ham website after the game: “I’m delighted.
“It was a good experience for me tonight, to play with the likes of Patrice Evra, and Mark Noble in midfield. It was a good challenge and a good test for us as well, and I think I did well.”
He spoke of it being an honour playing alongside Mark Noble, but is he the successor to the throne?
Whilst Noble has had his critics in recent times there is no doubt he has been a long-term hero at West Ham.
Fans of the club have often wondered why Noble has never received England recognition given his consistent form in the Premier League.
Noble has gone on to play over 400 games for West Ham since his debut for the club back in 2004.
Lewis certainly has the ability to follow in his footsteps. An energetic midfield creator, West Ham look to have another midfield gem in their ranks and one that can hopefully progress into the first-team soon.
The Hammers have a fine record of bringing through young players.
Noble is one current example and Lewis could not be at a better club if he is to find his way into the West Ham first-team.
This season, with a relegation battle raging, might come a little too soon for the teenager.
Nonetheless, in 2018-19 it will not be a surprise if Lewis finds himself playing alongside Noble in the West Ham midfield once again.
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