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Interviews

FIRST-TEAM ANALYST ALEX LATIMER DETAILS THE IMPORTANCE OF ANALYSIS IN FOOTBALL

A look at the work that goes in ahead of each matchday

22 March 2020

First-team analyst Alex Latimer plays a key role within the coaching staff, and with analysis and technology constantly improving and evolving, we caught up with Alex to talk us through the demands of the job…

“A lot of the role is to do with analysing the performance of our players and ensuring each member of the team are hitting their KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators).

“We also look at the opposition team a lot and identify their strengths, weaknesses, areas to exploit, set-pieces, injuries and suspensions so that when it comes to a matchday, we don’t have any real surprises.

“We always look to identify key patterns of play that teams use and identify players that are key within that.

“We know that if we can nullify the key players within the system then we can hamper them, but it’s also a balancing act as you still want to play to your own strengths without spending too much focus on stopping the opposition play.

“We try to be creative to counter-act what the opposition are trying to do. At the minute, the analysis side of the game is just getting bigger and bigger. You see it on television all the time, for example Monday Night Football with Jamie Carragher and Gary Neville.

“The equipment they have available just goes to show how quickly the technology has developed and we can all benefit from that. We now have a platform where we can quickly share footage and games with the players and staff, we’re able to get wide-angled feeds of the opposition whereas beforehand when I first started, it wasn’t as easy to make the footage as accessible.

“Technology will only keep developing and we’ve just got to make sure we’re as up to date as we can in attempt to give us the best opportunity going in to each game. We’re clever with the technology that we do use, there’s a lot of equipment out there which sounds great but it’s important to use technology that fits your needs and is good value for money.

“This dressing room in particular have shown a real eagerness to interact with us and understand everything they can about their upcoming opponent, whereas in the past there might have been occasions where players weren’t buying into it as much.

“We’ve seen with the players this season that it does benefit them, we hold pre-match/post-match meetings as well as see players individually to help thems develop and gain an understanding of what’s coming next.

“We show clips to help players improve on certain areas, and it’s also a great way of showing players what’s been effective and what’s working well.

“I think there used to be a misconception of video analysis for just picking up on the negatives, but it’s also a chance to re-enforce the things the players and team are doing well, and it gives them confidence.

“We often record set-pieces during training, particularly when we’re working on new ones or different variations of ones we’ve used before. These clips are then used in a pre-match video just to remind the players of certain movements and what their roles and responsibilities are. We’ve had good success so far this season from set-pieces so that work has been key.

“Working within a first-team coaching staff is great. The manager is excellent, he lets me lead in the pre-match meetings and tactic discussions and puts a lot of trust in me to deliver key messages to the squad. Colin West, Dan Watson and Ronnie Jepson are all a big part of that as well.

“We spend Sundays discussing everything between us so that by the Monday morning we’re ready to hit the ground running again for the week ahead.

“During a match you'll see Ronnie has an ear-piece in which connects to a radio. Colin and I have access to that feed, and we can help deliver information from a higher vantage point, as you can’t always pick up on everything from pitch side.

“We get information down to the bench to then help distribute that through to the players as we can see the bigger picture and distances between players better. Often, if something isn’t right we get the information down as quickly as we can, but if at half-time something needs reviewing or tweaking, we have the ability to look back on clips with the players and make any necessary adjustments for the second half.

“Games that have stood out for me this season in terms of all-round performances include Burton Albion away in the FA Cup, Grimsby Town away in the league, home games against Plymouth Argyle and Crewe Alexandra amongst others.

“We’re a competitive team and we look to hunt the ball down and impose our game on the opposition. When we’ve got the crowd on our side and they can see what we’re trying to do when we’re hunting teams down it really adds to the atmosphere and really helps the players.

“It’s a fantastic job to be involved in, I look forward to coming into work every day and all of our work throughout the week is geared up ready for matchday. The majority of our work is done throughout the week so that we’re as ready as we can be on a Saturday afternoon, so we try and enjoy the games as much as possible and it’s rewarding when you see your hard work pay off.

“We’re all keen to have a strong end to the season whenever that may be and we’ll make sure we continue to put in the work to give ourselves the best opportunity.”


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