Offer of analytical assistance for football clubs

By Antonio | March 4, 2014

Offer of analytical assistance for football clubs

This is a little different from anything else we have put up on Statsbomb.  It’s not an analytical article, but instead is an announcement that may be of interest to those involved with professional football clubs.

I was lucky to be able to present at the OptaPro Forum held in London last month, and this event’s uniqueness included the fact was that it was one of the first events that brought together football clubs and the amateur analyst community.  I would like to advance this concept offering the services of the Statsbomb analytical staff to football clubs.

We at Statsbomb are busy people with real jobs and families, but we have a willingness to supply our “expertise” and analytical minds to forward thinking and innovative clubs who are willing to see the value in analytics.

Why are we doing this?

The reason I and most of the other writers here at Statsbomb, started writing is that we like being able to interrogate data to see what answers it holds.  We have a special interest in going beyond the final result to try to understand whether teams and managers achieved the results that they deserved, and why exactly some teams perform better than others.  It would be great to be able to combine those and other achievements, with helping to influence behaviours at a club.  We know that's a very lofty aim, but it's something that we would like to work toward.

The Q&A session following my presentation at the OptaPro forum event included an exchange where it was pointed out by a club that it can be difficult to see how some of our work can be applied to real life football clubs.  My response was that clubs should talk to us more so we can better understand their requirements.  This offer should help in this regard. It has also been suggested that amateur analysts have not been proactive in attempting to contact clubs.  Let that not be suggested ever again!

I don’t expect that this approach will suit every club, but what is there to lose?  How often do people offer their services and expertise without demanding a payment? That is exactly what we are doing here.

Who would we be willing to help?

I anticipate that the clubs we would work with initially would be those that subscribe to, or have access to, detailed data from Opta or other data providers, but don’t have the time or the specific resources to be able to interrogate the data and answer all the questions that they would like to.  We understand that there are many instances where the never-ending cycle of game preparation, opposition scouting, video editing and team debriefing doesn't allow the analysis team at a club even the time to think of the questions they would like to ask.

What kind of things could we help with?

  • Perhaps you have some scouting requirements for possible future transfers, or would like to understand how a team tends to attack.
  • In the unlikely event that you read this as an owner or a director of a club, perhaps you would like some thoughts on the performances of a manager that goes beyond the final scores. 
  • Maybe you want to analyse various attacking options to see if there are any small additional edges that can be gained – an example of this is my OptaPro analysis (here)
  • Maybe you feel like you are not getting the rub of the green with your results, but want a more objective look at whether that is actually the case?
  • Maybe you would like your organization to know general best practices for data analysis relating to football, but also want experts who can explain this stuff in simple, understandable language.

We could go on all day listing possible areas to help with, but hopefully clubs will have some of their own questions that they feel could be hugely important, but just haven't been able to answer yet. Just in case anyone had any doubts, we aren't suggesting that the use of analytics should replace the game watching and tasks already being carried out by clubs. Instead it should supplement the "traditional" analysis by being able to quickly reduce large amounts of data and help focus on what really matters.

How do we move this forward?

If anyone involved with a professional club is interested in pursuing this idea, then just drop me an email on gutties@hotmail.com and we can discuss the specific details to see if it’s likely to be a runner. Our writers have busy schedules, but as you can see from the site, that rarely stops us from spending a great deal of time analyzing football in detail.

At this stage, I would like to think we have shown that we are responsible individuals and in that regard I can assure you that any emails we receive shall remain confidential.

Let's see if this is another step towards bridging the gap between football clubs and amateur, but capable, analysts.