The impact of data in sport cannot be undervalued. The role of data analyst is now common in most sports across the world.
It is getting more publicised than ever before. I commented on a post on LinkedIn that last week that I was watching an EFL (English Football League) round-up show where a club had appointed a data analyst. Their name was called out in the show with one of the pundits calling it one of the best recent signings the club had made.
Traditional analysis in football/soccer focused a lot around video and basic statistics. Analytics, on the other hand, considers those insights derived from larger datasets, spanning multiple leagues and seasons. Data Analysis is moving at pace traditional analysis is now being accompanied, by spatial analysis, data modelling and clubs are now deriving their own metrics on how they measure players/teams e.g. expected Goals (xG) which measures the quality of a team and player's shots.
Data Analysis is also directly impacting the coach. In January 2019 Marcelo Bielsa’s now-famous Spygate seminar (this was where the Leeds Utd manager demonstrated the volume of analysis conducted by his side per game), he stated how it takes his staff four hours to analyse a match. His single example in the press conference showed he watched (51 games per team) this task could take a total of 360 man-hours per team to complete, for a single upcoming match.
His public presentation to the media was a great insight into seeing a head coach not only show how much time he gives to statistics, but also how comfortable he was in publicly explaining the analysis and drawing out his own insights. Another example of just how far the game has come.
The football analyst model has shifted further still with the introduction of the "Twitter Analyst". Jay Socik the new head of recruitment analysis at Luton Town considers himself as being one of a new type of analyst. “We came from having social media platforms where we voiced opinions or wrote scout reports or did statistical analysis. Everyone knows it’s been changing for years, from the stories of Brentford and Liverpool, but even at a lower level now there’s so much tactical writing, scouting reports, graphs. It’s just taken off on a whole new level.” (Paul MacInnes, The Guardian)
As the football/soccer world debates the moves of European top players such as Kylian Mbappe and Erling Haaland, could we have a future where support staff moves between clubs are given equal amounts of publicity and interest in the game.
Could they be football's next stars...
Please get in touch with me at harbir@sportsxconsulting to learn more about how SportsX could help your organisation on its Technology journey.