Analyst Insights: Aidan Reagh
Updated: Jan 24
The tactician speaks to Aidan Reagh, ex Bristol Rovers and current performance analyst for Ohio University.
We discuss topics like how does one become a performance analyst, the day-to-day operations of a performance analyst, and much more.
How long have you been a performance analyst?
I started in 2017 as an analyst for Bristol Rovers in the opposition sector, then Ohio Machine as an analyst. Finally, I joined Ohio University as the sole analyst of the women's soccer team.
What is a typical day for you, What does a performance analyst do?
There is no typical workday, at Ohio university the matches are usually played on Fridays and Sundays.
Monday: Update everything ie.. the databases, and I have to code everything (Since I have to do post-match coding).
Tuesday: This is when we scout oppositions that we play on Friday's and prepare reports for Wednesday.
Wednesday: This is when we prepare for the Sunday match & a quick meeting with the coaching staff. So they can prepare the training sessions based on the opposition reports.
Thursday: Day Off!
Friday: Match Day! The depends on whether I'm filming or working on the touchline. If I'm filming I have to start setting up two hours before the match. If I'm working on the touchline, working through the Ipad for last-minute technical details.
Saturday: Day off!
Sunday: Back at it, the grind never stops.
"A Performace analyst is a combination between sports science, data science, and opposition scouting. "
What kind of analytical tools are used by you daily?
It depends on the team, if they have a certain subscription for Wyscout or InStat, then we have to use that particular program. I am comfortable in using Wyscout, when It comes to my coding I prefer to use Excel, I have heard Julia has been utilized recently. They are all great tools and you can do a lot with them.
Most of the clubs still prefer to use Excel due to the quick interface and every club has a set routine set into excel for weekly reports and graphs. I use Tableau a lot for public work due to its easy interface but visually appealing data interface.
To summarize: Excel, Wyscout, & InStat are the main tools for a performance analyst.
Is there a particular project that influenced your club to pursue a player?
Thinking back to Bristol Rovers, Anssi Jaakkola (Finnish Goalkeeper) who was at Reading FC before. That was more of a wide basis rather than individual data collection.
Jonson Clarke-Harris (Peterborough United now, was Bristol Rovers, striker): I noticed him due to great performances based on statistics, and I and my former boss at Bristol Rovers decided to go for him.
According to you, what is the hardest part of the job?
Honestly, I have to say that it is putting in the hours every week, as it is a long season. That being said, going into every season I set up my templates (Excel) exactly how I want them. It takes a week or two to get really into it. But once everything is set up it is like a machine type work almost autonomous to my brain.
"The 60 to 70 hours I put in every week is well worth the time. I'd rather do that than work in a standard office from 9-5."
What does a performance analyst look for in a player?
Taking a specific example for a box-to-box midfielder. I would look for the number of progressive passes per match. Expected assists is a stat that is becoming more readily available, it is a good one to look at for the playmaking and making sure a player is not just passing side-to-side. A lot of teams are looking for that Neil Warnock style - launch it 50 yards up the field players. But analysts have to make sure that the players are not just playing one kind of pass throughout the match.
We also wanna make sure how the players are handling pressure? for central midfield players that play in the high-pressure areas of this pitch. We are looking to how is he/she retaining possession when they receive a pass. So ball retention and ball progression are the two types of stats we look at most.
Is there a particular player in England or the United States that has caught your eye in the recent seasons?
The players I worked with & who play in the US:
Alivia Milesky (Ohio U, Midfielder): Was a very special player, she graduated last year.
Hulda Arnarsdóttir (Wake Forest, Attack): She has always impressed me with her stats and overall performances.
Parker Bolin (U18 player, holding midfielder): Parker is a very impressive midfielder and a great athlete to work with.
Jonson Clarke-Harris (Peterborough United): One of the best players I got to work with at Bristol Rovers, a great goalscorer and an impressive athlete overall.
Liam Lindsay: Liam is a player that always stood out statistically, but I never got to pursue as much as I would love to.
Kristoffer Ajer (Celtic): I noticed him when he was playing in Scandinavia when he was 16 or 17 and thought he had good potential. He is now at Celtic and doing quite well.
Any advice for the aspiring performance analysts?
You can get a lot from is football reference (fbref.com) to get to know the industry a bit better. The best advice I can give is always to be networking. You won't always get a reply but get on Linkedin and find other performance analysts, connect with them, reach out. Just ask about their day-to-day operations. That goes a long way in the future, as football is an industry where public postings are rare and vacancies are handled internally most of the time.