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Data Analysts: How important are they?

Data Analysts are more than often ignored by the average FM player. For instance, when I first saw the staff role, which was introduced in 2017, I didn’t even look twice as I focused mainly on my scouting and coaching team. Little did I know, however, that Data Analysts are very important to the modern game.

Statistical Analysis

So just what is a Data Analyst, I hear you ask?

Well the clue IS in the name, essentially. That is to say, a Data Analyst picks up data, be it from your own players, opposition teams you’re playing against soon, or even individual players you choose to scout, and then presents what data he has collected to you, the manager. In fact, there are three attributes attributed to the Data Analyst so he can perfect his craft: Judging Player Data, Judging Team Data and Presenting Data. Obviously, like with all Staff and Players, you’re mainly looking for 20, 20, 20 in all three of these, which is unrealistic. What you’re actually going to be looking for (in a big club in any case) is a good balance of all three of these attributes, whilst your Chief Data Analyst picks up the slack they create with his Disclipine and Man Management.

History analyses itself

Before these fancy computers that can withhold Terrabytes of data, Managers and Scouts used to rely on their ears and eyes when signing a player. For instance, that’s how Graeme Souness and Southampton ended up with Ali Dia back in 1996. Meanwhile in today’s day and age, there is the widespread internet to tell Graeme Souness that Dia was not the player he claimed to be.

However, nowadays, this World Wide Web uses an array of techniques to reliably track data like never before. Companies like StatsBomb (https://statsbomb.com/), which was founded only in 2016, were pivotal in the almost Renaissance of this type of Analytical football.

“We used to hear that football was too complex and free-flowing to apply data to it, but that’s not something that really gets said these days” – Ted Knudson, StatsBomb co-founder

Similarly, commentators and the like used to keep track of certain statistics, but never has football been met with such a scientific way of being played. But StatBomb is one of the biggest companies that specializes in drawing up statistics, from the number of touches a player takes, to the number of goals in the second half a team scores throughout its season. But how does this translate into Football Manager 2020?

Well, surprisingly, it translates very well! Since Football Manager is (barring the Match Engine) a text based game, with a bunch of information and data being thrown at you, so even MORE data being thrown at you is something the hardcore fans dream of.

Analysing Players

As far as analysing players go, however, its been made rather… Simple. For this, we’re going to be using Tottenham’s Chief Data Analyst: Stuart Metcalf

Stuart is one of the best Analysts in the world. Mainly because he has 16, 15 and 15 in all necessary attributes. (Attributes subject to change)

Tottenham Chief Data Analyst
Tottenham Hotspur Chief Data Analyst – Stuart Metcalf

However, attributes aren’t everything in the Data Analyst world.

For instance, Footballer needs a good pitch and training facilities to be able to improve. And a Data Analyst needs good Data Analyst facilities to not only improve, but do his job. If you give him a piece of paper and a pair of binoculars, the Data Analyst will not be able to accurately collect data on what he needs to collect, and thus, with bad facilities, the reports will be incomplete.

Data Analyst Facilities
Data Analyst Facilities

On the other hand, good facilities don’t come cheap: computers and software cost money, as do the offices needed to house Data Analysts, plus the cost of their wages. It definitely is a step up having a Data Analyst with good facilities in your team. Tottenham alone spent an average of £75,000 a month (which isn’t limited to Analysts, but includes the cost and maintenance of their facilities). So not only is a lot of money involved, it’s a big investment to make, which is why a lot of clubs that aren’t flourishing money wise might opt out of using Data Analysts in a prolific way.

So, how can the scouting of players be made or broke using Data Analysts?

As I previously said, a Data Analysts job can be to Analyse the entirety of the First Team, to see where goals are scored or conceded, how many passes we made in the last match, etc… But he can also be used to Analyse a specific player and his statistical performance so far in the season, or over a given time period. We’re going to start with this…

Get Analyst Report

Firstly, if you hover over a player, any player, in the scouting office, be it in a scouting meeting or just player search, you have to option to either get a scout report, which is just a basic report made by your scouts, taking a look at his performances in terms of goals, assists and rating, plus getting their attributes checked and a preliminary report as to their pros and cons: basic information. When hovering over the report section of a player, however, you also have the option of asking for an Analyst Report. Now what exactly is an Analyst report?

Basically, an Analyst will write a report about any players statistics throughout the season. A player’s scout report could pick up his attributes based on a certain position or role, whereas a Data Analyst’s report will pick up how has done in those positions and roles with pure data and numbers.

Paul Pogba Data Analyst Report
Paul Pogba’s Data Analyst report

Clearly, with Paul Pogba’s report, he has some positives such as his headers won ratio, but also has a good number of negatives. Since he is in the same league as us, I wouldn’t consider Paul Pogba as a good signing, due simply to his recent form. A scout report for his price and such could change my mind, but this is obviously a subjective point of view on the player.

Consequently, I can use my Data Analysts to see how Paul Pogba and others have been playing so far this season. Can a report be used for entire teams?

The answer is yes.

Team report

Team reports are very interesting things, and there are, in fact, multiple reports you can get. Firstly, we’ll talk about actual team reports.

As a result of having a good Data Analyst team, you can get a report on a team, any team, should you require or want one. This can be for multiple reasons, but mainly you get a report on a team you’re about to play, and the Analysts automatically report on a team in the week prior to playing them. They generally include information in 5 different headers: General Performance, Scoring, Conceding, Formations used and faced. This report can also be used for your own team, to see how well you perform. For example, here is a report for my Tottenham team.

Tottenham Hostpur Data Analyst Report
Tottenham Hotspur Data Analyst report

Clearly, the information on this screen can tell me how I might plan to set up for my next game, as I have some very decent free kick takers in the squad, who all work hard for each other and have good stamina. Pair this with a team report for your next match and you’re all set to make trouble.

You’re also able to take a look at recent matches along with the form of each and every one of your players in those games, including a heat map, passing combinations and key moments, be it good or bad.

Conclusion

So there you have it. An answer to the age old 2017 question: what is a Data Analyst.

These staff members are crucial to a big team, and could definitely make or break your team, as they provide absolutely valuable information to be able to adapt to any situation your team is faced with. Combining reports from Data Analysts, along with your Scout reports and add a little tactical genius into the mix, and your team can overcome any obstacle.


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Written by Toby Lacey

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