The right science
There is a lot that we can learn from seeing how the same challenges are faced and resolved in a different context. We often look to other industries to identify whether there are any approaches that may be applied to football.
An asset management company when hiring an fund manager, for example, will seek out a combination of both objective and subjective information to help them make the best decision possible. Subjective information is sought through references and rigorous interviews (art) while objective performance measures are available through assessing a candidate’s past performance from the funds they have managed (science). This provides a full spectrum of information on which to make a decision, resulting in a better chance of success.
In football, we have been adopting a similar art / science approach to recruitment. We recognise the value in traditional methods of assessing talent through the experienced and often expert judgement of scouts, but we are also aware of objective information that can be used to further enhance the quality of our decisions.
The appetite is already there to enhance our processes with a little science, but the challenge is in establishing what ‘a little science’ actually means. Sometimes, the temptation is to throw as many statistics as possible into the mix but this can actually create more confusion than clarity. Other times it can be to completely ignore it in favour of more familiar turf, with some clubs incorrectly believing that it is either / or.
The key is to identify the right science through establishing which information is most correlated with success. This may often result in eschewing more ‘cutting edge’ metrics in favour of simple, yet critical criteria. Things like team strength, playing time and age, for example, remain the biggest indicators of success when recruiting players according to the data, and clubs whose recruitment is driven by these factors, among others, are likely to outperform those whose aren’t.
We are continually evolving our approach to recruitment. Supplementing the art with the right science can help make it a positive evolution for all.