In the modern game of football, data analytics is becoming ever more crucial to how teams operate. It is a tool, which if used correctly, can improve a team’s potential and efficiency on the pitch.
The most famous case of a Premier League side utilising this modern tool was at Bolton Wanderers under the leadership of former England manager, Sam Allardyce.
Under his guidance, the team from the Reebok adopted the ultra-modern medium and put it to fantastic use.
Allardyce’s Bolton team were not the best on paper but with his team analysing the data and pinpointing how they could improve and score more goals, they thrived in the harsh Premier League environment.
The specific nature of the data given was crucial and Allardyce gives a great example, saying: “They gave us the data and said we are now training like this.
“Instead of doing crossing, let’s do crossing more on an in swinging rather than an out swinging because statistically there looks like there’s more goals.”
In an environment, which is decided by such small variables, adopting this analytical stance on training could be the difference between winning and losing.
As such, those teams coming up from the Championship should be placing data analytics at the top of their priority list as they prepare for life in England’s top-flight.
Last season, two newly-promoted sides – Middlesbrough and Hull City – were relegated, due to the fact that for large parts of the season, they failed to alter their game to suit the Premier League.
While football is renowned for being one of the most difficult team sports to actually scientifically analyse, you have to feel that if they implemented a similar system to Allardyce’s Bolton, they could have fared better.
The process also comes in handy when acquiring new players, something that for a team entering the realms of the Premier League, is essential.
Allardyce speaks of how his analytical tool ‘Pro Zone’ was essential to his recruitment policy, with Bolton in the midst of a financial crisis at the time.
They were not able to spend the big bucks, much like a lot of newly-promoted sides, so they used the data to pick out bargains from across Europe.
The likes of Newcastle, Brighton and Huddersfield could potentially acquire players that on paper, may not look the best, but the analytical data will suggest that at some point in their career, they have been successful.
The job of the club is to then find a way of reviving their form, as Allardyce did with Jay-Jay Okocha, who arrived at Bolton on a free from Paris Saint-Germain.
These analytical margins are essential for any club looking to cement a place in the Premier League, something which as we all know, is no easy feat.
Too many times, teams have invested poorly when making the step up and it has proven costly.
The modern fast-paced nature of football means teams require a higher level of detail and for promoted side, data analytics is without question, a must.
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