Analyst Insights: Steven Scott
The Tactician speaks to Steven Scott, former manager of football services at FootballLOGIQ and currently an on-field performance and player recruitment analyst at the Canadian Premier League. We discuss Steven's experience as an analyst in Canada and his formation of a private consultancy focused on sustainable club growth. How long have you been in the sports industry and what positions have you held? I have been a coach for 8 or 9 years and technically we are doing a lot of analysis there, I have also worked as an analyst for TSN ( A Canadian broadcasting station). For over 2 years now I have been working as a data analyst, completely immersed in the data analytics side of the sport. What is a typical word day like as a performance analyst? My work is divided into two aspects, the first is identifying key KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) for individual clubs. For example, if a certain club wants to play a high pressing game, I translate that playing style with KPI's that are most relevant. In the high press example, I would present statistics like possession gained within 6 seconds of losing the ball. The second part of my job involves speaking with agents and analyzing players from a data perspective and also from a video perspective. A lot of work revolves around identifying markets around the world and analyzing different metrics for player recruitment purposes. What analytical tools do you use as a performance analyst? Most of my work is on spreadsheets based on the data pulled from Wyscout and Opta. Sometimes I use Python and Tableau. But Tableau can be a bit tricky to work with as it is a good visualization tool, but at the same time limits the users in the design interface. What I like about Tableau is that it can translate the data very quickly. Is there a certain project or report you worked on which influenced a club to acquire/scout a player? In the Canadian Premier League, we work with the 21st Club by utilizing their data and football development which I am a part of. We have a vetting process for international players based on their playing level and wages, several players that have signed with the CPL have been analyzed by me and others in the department. The main purpose of the league is to make us a soccer nation and make our national team better. What is the hardest part of the job? The hardest part is to identify the blind spots present in the data and understanding the power it has and also the flaws in the data. Knowing how the data is collected and what doe these data points to capture. That is the most difficult thing in the industry when it comes to analysis. For example, defining a pass is easy for the regular viewer but as an analyst looking at a simple pass means discovering the intent behind the pass and why certain if not all actions are made during the game. The ability to find the right player for the right club at the right time is incredibly difficult but we do our best. What do y0u look for in a player during data scouting? From a non-data point of view, some players I scout are technically more gifted than others but then during the data analysis it comes down to is that player just technically gifted or is efficient as well? Can he make the killer passes into the box versus the counterparts, it goes to show that technique vs efficiency has a big part to play in scouting. For example, if we are looking at a center back that is not technically gifted but has a counterpart that is left-footed, quicker, and technically gifted we need to figure out what the team needs are and how a player can influence the style of play. Can you share about your consultancy venture and what do you aim to achieve? link: I started my consultancy for a couple of reasons, mainly due to help out clubs in the given situation of the pandemic. Some clubs in the Bundesliga went bust because of no ticket revenue and a lot of the wages being inflated. My main objective is to figure what an adequate wage bill should be for each player based on the performance in the past year or two. Furthermore, use the same models to identify transfer fees so the clubs are making smarter decisions and grow sustainably. The next step for football clubs is to identify alternative revenue streams in case of another situation like COVID. In the past couple of years is there a player in Canada or the United States that has caught your eye? It is quite difficult to find another player like Fonzie (Alphonso Davies) or Jonathan David for a bit but it is completely possible. In CPL Marco Bustos has impressed me this year and received a national call-up this season. Mo Farsi (right-back for Cavalry FC) has been phenomenally good right back, I could see him making a move away from Canada sometime in the future. In terms of raw talent, Alphonso is probably the best Canadian athlete of the decade. Any word of advice you wish to share with aspiring football analysts. As a piece of advice, the most important thing is domain knowledge, starting with when and how to receive the ball in a certain situation. The basic tactical side of things will go a long way, you can learn tools online for free but domain knowledge is something we should focus on. At SportLOGIQ I had to create a data collection system from the ground up, it was challenging for sure but it made me learn about how and which data points are most important and relations that matter.