Written by Simon Austin – October 8, 2021
MANCHESTER UNITED has appointed Dominic Jordan as its first director of data science “to advance the club’s use of data to help players and staff succeed on the pitch”.
The move brings the club closer to rivals Leicester City, Liverpool and Manchester City, who have held the post for several seasons.
Unlike those three clubs, however, United’s new director of data science has no football background – despite being an avid Manchester United fan.
United currently does not have dedicated data scientists on the football side of the business, although they do on the business side.
Jordan, who has a background in geospatial analysis, said, âMy job will be to build a team of scientists and data analysts who will pull together, cleanse and combine data from all kinds of sources to help real experts take decisions. effective decisions with more confidence.
âThere is so much potential for data science to benefit the club, from helping recruiting players, to automatically analyzing game patterns, to using computer vision to extract information. real-time video streams.
âAt the start, it’s about figuring out which issues are most important to the club and tackling them for quick but effective results. Over time, as you incorporate the best practices, the issues get more difficult – which is why building a great team is key to keeping the club ahead in the data space.
âI have seen first-hand how data used correctly can transform organizations of all kinds. I would only take a role where the desire to use data to evolve and improve decision making comes from the top. So having the opportunity to do just that for the football club that I love – well, that was a no-brainer. “
United will have some catching up to do in their use of data science.
In January, we revealed that Manchester City had appointed Laurie Shaw, a PhD in digital astrophysics and former UK government policy adviser, as senior AI scientist.
The club is recruiting heavily for its data science department after Brian Prestidge was promoted to director of information technology and decision-making at City in January 2020.
Rivals Liverpool are, however, considered to have the most established, best-staffed and best-staffed data science department in English (and possibly European) football, under the leadership of Ian Graham.
Jordan, a graduate in Mathematics, Statistics and Pure Mathematics from the University of Cambridge, admitted that there is great potential for United’s capacity development in this area.
“There has been an explosion in data collection and analysis around football in recent years and it will continue: more and more data being collected on more and more players and teams,” a- he declared.
âIt’s inevitable that having access to such information means that people will find different ways of doing things that may have been done a certain way for a long time. The hard part is fine-tuning all of that data to be ready to answer a specific question at a specific time. Clubs that understand how to do this to improve expert decision making in critical areas will be successful in the long run. “