At the start of the 22/23 season, some bookies had Barrow AFC at 10/3 to be relegated from League Two. Barrow had other plans, though. The club recorded their best-ever Football League start taking 30 points from a possible 51, and currently sitting 21 points above the relegation zone with 13 games to go. The club is doing more than staying out of the relegation places; it is holding its own in League Two.
Barrow recently became the latest Sky Bet League Two club to implement the StatsBomb market-leading core dataset and advanced analytics platform, StatsBomb IQ, into its performance analysis and recruitment departments. Lewis Dunwoody is the Head of Data and Analysis at Barrow AFC and has been instrumental in encouraging the use of StatsBomb’s products across these areas of the club.
Before joining Barrow, Lewis worked in various performance analysis and coaching roles at Runcorn Linnets FC, Girona FC, and Liverpool FC. He is now responsible for all video and data analysis areas, from opposition and team analysis to individual player development and club recruitment.
We recently spoke with Lewis about the role of StatsBomb’s data and analysis tools in his day-to-day responsibilities, the wider analysis department and the club’s recruitment strategies.
StatsBomb (SB): Prior to using StatsBomb Data and analytics, what did your analysis workflow look like?
Lewis Dunwoody (LD): “The analysis workflow was purely subjective and time-consuming using video only. Data makes the process more efficient and objective, allowing us to focus more quickly on the parts of the game which are most important. More often than not, these parts of the game are present in every game, which makes the analysis process more consistent and easier to compare match by match, opponent to opponent.
Before working with StatsBomb, we primarily presented data in a table form. Now, we can pull and create StatsBomb IQ visualisations to present in meetings or to club staff in a more engaging and informative manner.”
(SB): Within this, what were the biggest challenges you faced?
(LD): “We have attempted to overcome two main challenges: shortening the feedback loop and making data more accessible. Our work with the StatsBomb Customer Success team has enabled us to overcome our first challenge by creating code to take advantage of the StatsBomb API.
In minutes, we can create opposition data packs and post-game reviews, all related to who we are as Barrow AFC. These reports are available soon after full-time, meaning we can maximise our feedback time.
Secondly, these reports are consistent game to game, meaning our staff have become more familiar with the visualisations and definitions of our KPIs, making the data more accessible and impactful. We have aided the process of incorporating data into our workflows by ensuring consistent messages from data and video.”
(SB): Since signing up with StatsBomb what are the biggest changes you have seen?
(LD): “StatsBomb data is constantly evolving and improving. Quantifying the impact of match actions instead of counting them means we can become more detailed in our analysis.
The On-Ball Value metric has been very useful in describing an overall team's threat or measuring one of our players' impact in an area of the pitch or phase of play.
Using StatsBomb data has also been vital in helping us put square pegs in square holes. It allows us to identify where our player's strengths are and put them in areas on the pitch to have maximum impact.
Against certain opposition, we have decided to put players with a higher pass OBV in the middle of the pitch against teams who leave space between lines, which has helped our key players shine.
For example, earlier this season, Ben Whitfield was tied with Kevin De Bruyne on domestic assists thanks to his passing ability in the final third and the locations he was taking up on the pitch.”
(SB): What is the biggest success you’ve had since joining as a StatsBomb Customer?
(LD): “We’ve changed the perception of data within the club, and the results speak for themselves, and this will hopefully be the start of something big and lasting for the club.
On a personal note, we have also become one of the division’s best sides on set pieces, ranking fifth on xG per corner (0.04) and scoring the second most goals (9) in the division from corners. Our attacking set pieces alone had earned us 12 points by December.”
(SB): What internal / external decisions have been influenced by using our data and products?
(LD): "Internal decisions are made weekly, sometimes daily, regarding training planning and team selection. Although we incorporate more video than data, the data is vital to guiding our video analysis.
Data has a more significant impact from a recruitment perspective. We can be more specific in our evaluations of players, creating our in-house index to compare players and be more informed when making recruitment decisions.
Becoming more data-driven in our recruitment approach can help mitigate financial risk better and hone in on who future Barrow AFC players are and who will most likely add value to our group."
Lewis' use of StatsBomb products is a prime example of how the effective use and presentation of data can help to create a better understanding of overall team performance and future recruitment targets across key departments.
It also highlights how having access to unique StatsBomb metrics such as On-Ball Value (OBV) provides detailed insight into crucial areas of the game, such as attacking threat and individual player impact.
The club aren't just proving the bookies wrong and holding their own in a competitive league. They are using StatsBomb data to strengthen vital analysis workflows, performances on the pitch and its ever-growing data-driven culture.
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