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Monday, 30 November 2015

Comment: MacKenzie discusses data and scouting

The use of data is football is growing, but it is still in its infancy. There is plenty of data around, the question is how much is relevant and how much what is the best way to interpret that data. That is probably the single biggest issue with statistical data at the moment, knowing what you can do with data and knowing what you want it to tell you.

Rob MacKenzie touched on this in the recent article of his I recently gave you a link to.

"I agree that the gut instinct and immediate reaction of the scout in question, based on his years of experience of assessing players and his in-depth understanding of what is required for your team (both technically/tactically & psychologically etc.), is vital to considering any player and I don’t think that the scout’s assessment (if they are good!) should be questioned.  What should be questioned however is; was that performance a normal level of performance for that player? Was the performance that your trusted scout liked so much representative of that player’s ability? 
"For me, this is where a statistical approach is pivotal.  In many cases, clubs are able to gain statistics from the game in question (which can use as an initial benchmark/guide) whilst also being able to compare that data to how they have performed previously." 

Players are scouted over an extended period to produce a picture of how they will react in different situations. Being a player who can only produce when things are going well is of little use, what happens when things go wrong, what happens then? Can he turn around a poor performance, how does a mistake affect him, how does he react to his side losing. All of this is mental, it is his character that is under assessment, his football is almost secondary. 

The sides that do this best will be the most successful and the best characters demand the best money. The right 'mentality' of player congregate at the top clubs, thus they keep winning. Their skill comes from their mental approach, not the other way around.

"Moreover, if done properly, I believe you are able to then make inferences into how a player reacts to different situations if you look across a number of different scenarios.  For example, if you analyse his performance against the top five sides in the league, the bottom five, when they play at home, when they play away, when he scored a hat-trick and when gets pulled off after 59 minutes for having a nightmare, you are able to generate a profile of the player.  Yes, you could send scouts out to watch all of these games (if you have the resources) but a statistical approach combined with video analysis can do this in days as opposed to weeks.  As such, an approach that encapsulates statistical analysis combined with live observations in my opinion has to be the most cost effective, efficient and accurate way to assess a player."

He goes on to discuss how this is only one way to use statistics, that it is a reactive way, they should also be used in a proactive way.

If you haven't read the full article yet, take a look. It discusses how he worked at Leicester and how he used analytics in his role.

Rob MacKenzie discussing his role


Further Tottenham Reading
Stats suggest Spurs will finish above Chelsea - Chelsea will not make the top 4
Premier League more important than Champions League - link to an excellent article discussing the clear indications
Shots leading the league - a look at shooting, Spurs are the most accurate team in the league and Harry Kane the most accurate striker
Lloris: A punching analysis - link to an excellent article that reveals Lloris punches more than any other keeper in the top 5 European leagues
Spurs continue to scout Townsend replacements - we are casting our net far and wide in search of a new inverted winger

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