Spurs & Liverpool target the same players because of statistics

Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool always seem to be going after the same targets and the reason for that is probably statistical and not the fact they both at one time employed Damien Comolli.

Spurs & Liverpool target the same players because of statistics

Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool use statistics analysis to help them determine transfer purchases. The idea is to identify players with the potential to become stars or who increase greatly in value, in other words payers who are undervalued. It's an approach that Manchester City's new owners employ and that Roma use as well.

Luis Suarez is a great case in point, Spurs decides against him Liverpool decided for him, result he has increased immensely in value and has become a great player.

Spurs use a company called Decision Technology which provides us with player recruitment advice and strategy consultancy. The company created a set of statistical models it uses that predict football games and rates players. We started using them when Damien Comolli was at the club (2005 - 2008).

Ian Graham who has a PhD in theoretical physic from Cambridge was head of the research department at Decision Technology who created these system and he is now employed by Liverpool.

Henry Stott is a co-founder of Decision Technology and currently manages the business day-to-day. He explained the work the company are doing for Tottenham.

“We help analyse players. We basically do ‘Moneyball’ with them in relation to the evaluation of players and other statistical questions – for example what are Spurs’ chances of reaching the Champions League in any given year?”

Moneyball is a term used in the US. It was a book and movie about the Oakland Athletics Baseball team and their general manager who used statistics to scout players resulting in a 20 game winning streak in 2002, the longest winning streak in Major League Baseball American League since 1935.

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Incidentally John W Henry had a brief starring role in the film. He is the owner of Liverpool and the Boston Red Sox. He head hunted Ian Graham from Decision Technology to work for Liverpool.

“Quantification of players is not a silver bullet. It’s a different source of information and it can’t see the subtleties of a player that a scout can.

“The analysis runs across 7,000 players across 21 leagues over three seasons. No scout can watch that much football. But what we do doesn’t undermine the work that scouts do. What you have to remember about data is that there is no sentimentality about data.”

“When we started working with Spurs, they had 55 points in the league. Our forecasts are just one part of the input – and that will be the same at Liverpool [the work Graham is doing].

“Other people will be involved in the decision making process such as Franco Baldini."

This statistical approach throws up some surprising results such as the poor rating of Dutch football, a country renown for producing world stars.

“You can evaluate how a Dutch team might be against an English team. You trace it back like a spider’s web cross checking European matches between team. We can track those matches and calibrate those leagues. The Dutch teams are not as strong as other leagues.”

Luis Suarez of course came from Ajax in the Dutch league and he hasn't done to badly!

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