Anorak News | The reason for Liverpool’s success : theoretical physics and not overlooking dickheads

The reason for Liverpool’s success : theoretical physics and not overlooking dickheads

by | 13th, November 2019

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How does Liverpool find players? Ian Graham, a theoretical physicist and Liverpool’s director of research, has been talking to Freakonomics Radio. “We get data on every ball touch that every player makes in a game, where it was on the pitch and what happened next,” says the man who played a key role in Mo Salah’s recruitment. “We can see where all the players are at 25 frames per second. We try to put everything into one currency. Football is measured in goals, so we try to take whatever action a player does on a pitch – a pass, a shot, a tackle – and ask the question, ‘What was this team’s chance of scoring before this action and what was the team’s chance of scoring after?’”

So will Liverpool win a trophy this season? Yes, probably. The club has a probability of over 0.5 trophies.

It’s not a perfect science:

In Premier League football and European football in general, there’s a worldwide free market of football players. So if we spot a player that we would like to play for Liverpool and we can pay the price that the selling club demands, then we can buy him. And the real power of data analysis is when the data set is large. We have detailed data on hundreds of thousands of players. Maybe only five percent of those would be anywhere near a Premier League level player. But that’s still 5,000 players, which is too big a set of players to scout everyone in depth and in detail. So we can really help that filtering and identification process.

He goes on to say that managers can define a good player by their ability to interpret instructions, obedience and simply turning up on time and to every training session; a player can think themselves a good player for other reasons, such as being mercurial. This can mean that the more free-spirited players get less game time and are overlooked. Graham says the problem is that “if everyone has that rule [not to employ the outsiders] there’s gonna be a surplus of really talented dickheads that could win you the league.”

Posted: 13th, November 2019 | In: Liverpool, Sports Comment | TrackBack | Permalink