This summer, an estimated 31 million people sat down to watch the Euro 2020 Final between England and Italy. Despite a disappointing ending for the England team, it was undoubtedly one of the most captivating matches the country has ever seen and under the expertise and passion of Gareth Southgate, England’s squad has never been stronger. However, it’s no longer just physical ability and a keen eye for coordination that keep football teams at the peak of their game. A new secret ingredient is available to elevate the recipe: Data Analysts. In January 2021, the football world witnessed one of its most valuable signings ever, but fans across the world would never see him on the pitch. Indeed, former Harvard University lecturer and researcher, Laurie Shaw, would be working away behind the scenes to help strengthen current Premier League leaders Manchester City through Data & Analytics. Through assets such as wearable technology and on-pitch cameras and sensors, Data Analysts are now able to capture so much more than the number of passes it should statistically take to score a goal, as was first measured through data capture in football post-World War II. From profitable scouting to injury prevention, performance analysis and player development, the collection of data proves itself invaluable to the success of any football team. Of course, while the ability to capture this data with a wide range of state-of-the-art tech is incredibly exciting, one area that the sector has been slightly slow to sink its teeth into is the understanding that this data is rendered useless unless it can be analysed, with the learnings then put into effect. As Oscar Ugaz, former Digital Business Manager for Real Madrid, stated in an interview with Sport Business Institute: “Today, people are fascinated by data capture and want to have all of these flashy products, but they’re not investing in people that are capable of understanding the business… properties should be investing 80 per cent in professionals capable of understanding and 20 per cent in the software and technology to extract it.” Football data & analytics in gamingAs football clubs, large and small, look to invest greatly in a better understanding of data and analytics, we’re seeing a similar trajectory being brought into the gaming world too. Football Manager 2022 (FM22), the world-leading football strategy game, announced in early November that it would be bringing the desire for data and analytics on the pitch to its capabilities in-game. In the latest release, developers have created “a raft of new features round performance analysis, including the addition of xG (expected goals) and deeper pre- and post-match analysis.” These aspects of FM22 will be part of the game’s enhanced Data Hub. Synonymous with what club managers are privy to in training sessions and during matches in the real world, players of FM22 will be able to track data such as possession of the ball, general performance, shooting, match momentum and defence efficiency. In no time, gamers will be able to create incredible teams based on more in-depth, factual data than ever before, rather than relying on intuition. The visualisation is keyAs per any analysis, the one aspect that FM22 truly prides itself on is its data visualisation. As we have spoken about previously, visual messages are registered and processed nearly twice as fast as text-based information. For this reason, it is crucial that all raw data is brought to life in the shape of graphs and charts so that users – whether on the pitch or in a game – can truly understand what they’re reading. Through enhanced understanding, users can make better, more powerful decisions that will undoubtedly create stronger, more successful teams. As games become more advanced in their abilities, aiming to be more life-like and immersive with technologies such a virtual reality, it comes as no surprise that FM22 has ramped up its data and analytics function. Gamers want to have the same experiences online as club managers do on the pitch, and they want the process of creating a team to be as closely linked to the experiences Gareth Southgate and Mikel Arteta have on a regular basis. The enhanced data function on FM22 gives players a greater insight into their teams and a more life-like experience of the pitch from the comfort of their own homes. It’s every football fan’s dream. To learn more about the roles Harnham have on offer, take a look at our latest Data & Analytics jobs.