Old dog, new tricks
Thomas Kuhn, in his book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions suggests that new ideas, regardless of the strength of evidence that underpins them, are only adopted once they are no longer considered ‘new’. He argues that this requires a change, not in how the ideas are viewed, but in who is viewing them.
It is a rather depressing theory, albeit not totally without merit. There is great comfort in knowing that you are not the first to try something new. That the path you are treading bears the footprints of earlier explorers.
Football is not immune from this phenomenon, and even those who at one time were considered innovators, can eventually succumb to the dogma of their own originality in the face of progress.
There is some validity in this approach – it can limit downside risk and can certainly protect us from ridicule in the event that new ideas fall flat. But it also limits progress, and stymies our chances of achieving a genuine competitive edge.
While we can all be guilty of taking the safe road, in football the number of forward thinkers who are willing to try something new is growing, and it isn’t all down to new blood as Kuhn might expect. The desire for competitive edge is driving innovation across the spectrum. For example, many clubs are routinely using objective, analytical insight to help identify and assess talent both more effectively and more efficiently than ever before.
From our perspective, it seems that the conversation is changing, and the old dog is picking up new tricks all the time.