In defence of decisions
Decision-making in football is a thankless task. Such is the diversity of opinion that even sensible action – selling an ageing player for example – is likely to attract the ire of some. Media narrative is often deliberately contrarian and fans can be passionate beyond reason. Inaction, no matter how sensible or justified, can also cause an unwanted stir.
The effect is a lot of noise, making it hard for boardrooms to maintain a clear head and to sort the helpful, constructive criticism from the vitriol. Ultimately, this can undermine the robustness of the decision-making process, leading to mistakes born out of muddled thinking.
While it is impossible to remove the peripheral noise from the process entirely, clever use of appropriate data can at least anchor any discussion in something objective. Like a GPS, data can tell us where we are and where we have been. This can help align stakeholders, and provide an evidence-based starting point for discussions.
For example, analytics can give us an objective assessment of how efficiently our wage bill is being deployed through measuring cost against productivity – this is an ideal starting point in discussing which players are critical to the club’s future.
This is not to say that clever use of data will stop all criticism – people will still stick in their 140 characters worth regardless, and besides you need to add your own context to data to get maximum value. But what it can do is provide us with some objective evidence on which to base our judgements, and increase our confidence in the decision-making process. Not only will this make our decisions easier to defend, it will also make them better.
Better decisions in the boardroom will improve success on the field and ultimately, that is the best way to bring everyone on side.