Statistical analysis: not just for small clubs anymore

I haven’t written anything about the recent goings-on at Liverpool, but some of the front-office selections — in particular Damien Comolli to the new Directorship of Football Strategy — have implications for the use of soccer analytics at a professional soccer club.  It’s been thought that soccer analytics in general and “Moneyball” in particular might be more applicable to small clubs to make the most of their limited resources, but as this post at The Long Ball Tactic blog (via Zonal Marking’s Twitter feed) argues, the big clubs with money also stand to gain from a wider use of analytics in squad and player selection and evaluation.

Now if you’re a big-money club, you can obtain a winning side simply by buying the best players from everyone else.  For example, see Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Chelsea, and Manchester United.  But just because a side can afford to spend 100 million euros on players during the summer transfer window does not mean that they can’t spend that money in a more systematic and efficient way.

Arsene Wenger has long been a champion of the use of analytics in football, and now with the arrival of John Henry and his team there are a couple more champions of the approach in the Premier League.  What the field of soccer analytics needs more than champions are winners, whether in a major domestic league or the European Champions League.