Man City FC eyes late surge with new data science chief

etihad (2)Manchester City FC may not have been firing on all cylinders so far this season but the club is aiming for a late spurt by cranking up its deployment of data science with the appointment of a new director of insights and decision technology.

Brian Prestidge, who was signed by the club in 2017 from Bolton Wanderers, has been promoted to the role, which covers nine teams across the City Football Group. He succeeds Lee Mooney, who left in the summer to launch his own start-up.

Under Mooney, the focus of the role expanded from developing analytical tools to assist in the identification and valuation of players, to provide support to the Football Performance and Human Performance departments as well.

Prestidge will continue this strategy and oversee a restructuring of the department for the club, whose men’s senior team is still competing in the Champions League, the FA Cup and the Carabao Cup.

British football clubs are increasingly turning to data analytics techniques in an effort to give them a cutting edge on the field, following in the footsteps of Bayern Munich and Real Madrid.

National teams have long embraced the strategy. As far back as 2014, the German Football Association credited its Match Insights programme – developed with software giant SAP – for playing a key role in the country winning the Fifa World Cup.

The programme analysed huge amounts of data about members of the German team and their opponents, and converted it into simulations and graphs that enabled trainers, coaches and players to identify and assess key situations in each match. These insights were used during pre-match preparations to improve player and team performance.

And last year, the Football Association signed a digital transformation contract with Google as part of plans to apply advanced analytics to find “meaningful” insights from players to transform its 28 national teams into world beaters.

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