Postecoglou explains how he balances using both data and the eye test at Tottenham

Ange Postecoglou has admitted that the improvement in the technological landscape and sports science has had a massive influence on how teams prepare and train, with the Australian explaining that he has had to balance that his with own intuition.

While Postecoglou might have only entered the consciousness of European football fans over recent years, the Spurs is one of the most experienced coaches going around in the game, having started his managed career more than two and a half decades ago.

During that time, the game has gone through a number of changes tactically while there are also a lot more physical demands on the players in modern-day football.

Postecoglou confessed that the biggest changes have had to do with the advent of sports science and the improvement in data analytics, with the technology increasingly being used to determine variables like workload.

Ange Postecoglou
(Credit: Sky Sports)

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When asked about how different the game is now to when he started, the Spurs head coach told Football.London: “It’s changed enormously. The two biggest areas of change when I think about the 26, 27 years I’ve been managing are around the sports science and the technology available from an analytics perspective, to assist you in your role.

“Again, not unusual like everything else in life, technology has taken over. It’s certainly infiltrated football as well and the sports science area, the way you prepare players, the tools we have now to measure how much they’re working, what levels they’re working at.

“That gives us great data to understand how they are as individual athletes. It’s changed enormously. There are still some basic fundamentals and a lot of it comes down to your game model, what kind of football you want to play. A lot of clubs tailor their training programme around the football you want to play at the weekend. Those are the areas of greatest development in the game.”

With the amount of data available to managers these days, it can be a challenge to highlight the relevant information and balance it with qualitative assessments.

When asked how he strikes that balance, Postecoglou said: “It depends on your experience, because I have been in the game a while, more often than not my eye is pretty accurate but if the data tells me something totally different I’ll go with the data, if it’s the right data.

“My major function every day is to make decisions. I make good decisions if I’ve got good information so I try to get the best information I can and get good people around you. They get access to the data, they feed into me and then it’s up to me to make the right decisions.”

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The abundance of data these days has meant that it is easy to find numbers that support your preconceived biases. The Old Mark Twain quote, ‘Three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics’, has never been more appropriate.

This is an issue that is prevalent across fields and football is certainly not immune, which is why Postecoglou and other top managers need to filter the right sort of data points that aid rather than hinder their decision-making.

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