I like the idea of using a philosophy when analysing and interpreting gathered data. In business, Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) are used to track how the performance aspects in the certain sectors of a business are performing; they are aimed for striving towards perfection. For the basis of my work, I like to view them rather as a balanced weighing scales between risk and reward. The main reason why I do this: As a coach/manager, you are looking for areas to improve on, while other areas you are looking towards maintaining consistency.
Let’s take Liverpool FC for example during the 2013/14 season, they had a formidable strike partnership, yet their defence often conceded goals. This led them often to lose out on the maximum 3 points. In this instance, the coach would ask the analyst, to provide him with footage of defensive errors and not of the individual mistakes. Obviously some mistakes are caused by individual errors, while others are errors which arised from a lack of team communication between its various units.
Analysing individual mistakes is what pundits love. In the following video Jamie Carragher and Gary Neville (Pundits from Sky Sports Monday Night Football show) talk about Liverpool’s new signing Dejan Louvren, a defender from Southampton. In the video Louvren’s defensive mistakes are analysed and criticised yet when analysed further in a group’s (Liverpool’s) defensive unit, the same defensive errors are made by other players. A slight difference between the two situations is that Louvren (the centre-back) left a very wide gap between himself and his full-back, while in the group setting the gap was noticed between the two centre-backs.
The following quote from Sidney Dekker (2007) is revealing in this context: “It is essential not to fault the individual players for what went wrong but to understand and recognise why and what they did at the time, made sense to them”. The next time you watch the post- match analysis from a pundits’ perspective you will see and understand what I’m trying to point out here. They are often judgemental of the mistake made and never try and understand why this choice of move was played (which may or may not have led to an opponent scoring) in that specific moment during the game by a player in turn.
As children, a football team learns to attack and defend as a team and the classic “you win and you lose as a team” phrase is used. It is up to us and the coaching staff to analyse and help the individual player(s) to better themselves in this area. This is influenced by a number of factors including: Technical, Physical or even decision-making aspects. For me the crucial bit lies in the ability to make the correct decision in a split second. Our analysis should include the ability for us to demonstrate and help the players understand the ‘better’ decision. In our analysis of opponents, the breaking of systems (tactics) is crucial for the manager to find ‘the gaps’ to break them even further apart.
How I see the role of analysis:
I firmly believe that our job as analysts, is to provide the footage and/or statistics to the manager & coaching staff. We are paid to analyse matches not coach technical/tactical elements of play. Obviously if I was asked for my opinion on a situation, eg: defending set-plays, I would be glad to give my input. It is important to remember however, that as an analyst it is not my job to advise the coach on how to do their training.