In this fabulous world of football, the often used phrase ‘Premier League Experience’ is regarded by many people as a defining characteristic of a player’s skill and ability, an indicator of whether a player is either worthy of interest by your club, or not.
If they have a big fat ‘No’ in the PLE column, they are regarded as being a ‘risk’, but is that really the case?
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Is this magical experience really a true reflection of a player’s prowess as it would claim to be, or merely a stat that is as throwaway as the term ‘player loyalty’.
Let’s look at a real life example to formulate a suitably balanced view – our very own Mike Williamson.
Admittedly I’m not a fan of his. I respect that he performs at his level on a week by week basis, and as a Toon fan, that is something I want to see from every player wearing our strip.
His commitment isn’t in question though his ability is a different matter, but the question revolves around that magical PLE column and what it really signifies.
Mike Williamson has an impressive 134 appearances in the Premier League. The question is however, does that total tell us much about the facts? Due to those appearances being in the Premier League, as opposed to one of the other top European leagues, does it make Mike Williamson worth more?
Additionally, though he’s vastly experienced, is he a better player than an equally valued centre-back who has only ever played in Holland or Turkey?
The answer is quite obvious really.
To bring a highly regarded player into the mix, as a means of testing the theory, let’s take a look at Charlie Austin.
He also has impressive figures, 18 goals in 35 Premier League games, but does that make him better than an equally valued striker who has scored 23 goals in each of the last 4 seasons in a league regarded as inferior to the Premier League?
Does a single season dictate a player’s prowess as a marksman; could he not just as easily be a one season wonder? I’m by no means suggesting that is the case, I’m merely stating that having only a single season’s experience, doesn’t guarantee he will find that level in forthcoming seasons.
Therefore, from the perspective of a defender and striker, players who for differing reasons have genuine positives in their footballing stats, is Premier League Experience actually worth anything when looking for new players?