Monday, October 14, 2019

Bielsa´s Derby County dossier detail ´pretty standard´ – OptaPro chief

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 18 Jan 2019

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Leeds United coach Marcelo Bielsa’s Derby County analysis dossier was “pretty standard for the industry”, according to the head of sports data giant OptaPro.

The revered Bielsa found himself in hot water ahead of the Championship leaders’ 2-0 win over Derby when he admitted to sending a club official to watch Frank Lampard’s team train, with the man involved having been caught by police, in what has become dubbed “spygate”.

Lampard – and others – criticised Bielsa after his confession, leading to the Argentine coach taking the curious decision to call a news conference on Wednesday in which he outlined the stunning scope of his pre-match preparations and research on opponents as part of a lengthy PowerPoint presentation, something he said he does to give himself peace of mind.

Bielsa claimed he and his analysis team spend 360 hours putting such a dossier together, with the attending media left astonished at the sheer amount of data shown to them in the hour-long session.

Despite the widespread acclaim for Bielsa’s presentation and attention to detail, Lampard insisted everyone does such analysis and OptaPro chief Ben Mackriell agrees with the former England midfielder.

Mackriell – who has worked in scouting and analyst roles for Norwich City, Burnley, Reading, Fulham and Everton – told Omnisport: “I did the job the guy who created the stuff for Bielsa did.

“I’ve been in that position, and, to be honest, the general reaction [in the industry] has been surprise that he went about it that way, but none of the stuff that he presented or talked about is of any surprise to anybody in the game, because, in varying forms, everybody is doing that.

“What’s been the biggest surprise is how much attention it’s got, just because from our perspective inside the game, this is everyday life to us. Every club in every league in the world is doing some form of what Bielsa showed in that press conference.

“The bit about spying on opposition, going to see training sessions, again it’s not a massive shock, it’s just something no one talks about, but it’s no surprise to anybody.

“The biggest thing that surprised me and people I’ve spoken to about it is just how engaged and how much press attention [it has received] and the tone of that attention. It’s obviously opened the eyes of people as to what goes on, on a day-to-day basis.

“What do people expect to happen? Do they think the club just rocks up on a Saturday and is surprised by the team in front of them? I don’t think it’s been a particular shock to anyone [in the game], maybe just the way he went about it, certainly doing it in a press conference is different.

“But, in terms of the content he showed, it wasn’t a shock. The level of detail they’ve gone into is pretty standard for the industry.

“This stuff has been evolving in professional football for the last 20 years, and every club has an analysis department of some form now.

“It happens under the radar, away from the eyes of fans. It’s not like people are particularly aware of it, they’re probably more aware of it in rugby and the American sports than they are in football.”

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