As everyone now knows, Liverpool are once again the football champions of Europe. But what you might know is the role data analytics – Moneyball style, Billie Bean style analytics – has played in Liverpool’s triumph. In fact, without analytics, Liverpool (which is owned by the same American company which owns baseball’s Boston Red Sox) would not even have hired the inspirational coach, Jurgen Klopp, who guided them to the European title.
“Jürgen Klopp was in his third week as Liverpool’s manager, in November 2015, when the team’s director of research, Ian Graham, arrived at his office carrying computer printouts. Graham wanted to show Klopp, whom he hadn’t yet met, what his work could do. Then he hoped to persuade Klopp to actually use it.
Graham spread out his papers on the table in front of him. He began talking about a game that Borussia Dortmund, the German club that Klopp coached before joining Liverpool, had played the previous season. He noted that Dortmund had numerous chances against the lightly regarded Mainz, a smaller club that would end up finishing in 11th place. Yet Klopp’s team lost, 2-0. Graham was starting to explain what his printouts showed when Klopp’s face lit up. “Ah, you saw that game,” he said. “It was crazy. We killed them. You saw it!”
Graham had not seen the game. But earlier that fall, as Liverpool was deciding who should replace the manager it was about to fire, Graham fed a numerical rendering of every attempted pass, shot and tackle by Dortmund’s players during Klopp’s tenure into a mathematical model he had constructed. Then he evaluated each of Dortmund’s games based on how his calculations assessed the players’ performances that day. The difference was striking. Dortmund had finished seventh during Klopp’s last season at the club, but the model determined that it should have finished second. Graham’s conclusion was that the disappointing season had nothing to do with Klopp, though his reputation had suffered because of it. He just happened to be coaching one of the unluckiest teams in recent history.”
Ian Graham, the Director of Research at Liverpool, does not watch football matches at all. He simply studies the data and teases out the analytics and helps Liverpool make better decisions: “Graham had not seen that game, either. In fact, he told Klopp, he hadn’t seen any of Dortmund’s games that season, neither live nor on video. He hadn’t needed to…To understand what happened, all he needed was his data.
Analytics has famously influenced the tactics in professional baseball and basketball in recent years. Ultimately, it may have just as great an impact on soccer, which traditionally hasn’t relied on statistics to figure out much of anything. Graham, who earned a doctorate in theoretical physics at Cambridge, built his own database to track the progress of more than 100,000 players from around the world. By recommending which of them Liverpool should try to acquire, and then how the new arrivals should be used, he has helped the club, once soccer’s most glamorous and successful, return to the cusp of glory.”
Note: the above material is neither investment research, nor financial advice.Marcellus Investment Managers is regulated by the Securities and Exchange Board of India as a provider of Portfolio Management Services and as an Investment Advisor.
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Note: the above material is neither investment research, nor financial advice. Marcellus does not seek payment for or business from this publication in any shape or form. Marcellus Investment Managers is regulated by the Securities and Exchange Board of India as a provider of Portfolio Management Services. Marcellus Investment Managers is also regulated in the United States as an Investment Advisor.
Copyright © 2022 Marcellus Investment Managers Pvt Ltd, All rights reserved.