How we use LongoMatch Pro in Professional Football in South Africa
By Alan Clark
Every day, week, month and season we are inundated with offers from performance analysts with new software, more reports and new technology. Companies seem to be springing up all over the world, offering better information, more accurate data and miles of player and team data. As coaches and Technical Staff, we get bombarded with these offers constantly. All of the major analysis tools and companies give us a mountain of data on each player, on our team and on our opponent. The smallest dossier I have received is 32 pages. As a modern, tech-savvy coach, who tries to keep up with modern trends and whose responsibility is opposition and performance analysis, the question I ask myself is how does this mountain of data help me achieve our goal and be successful? How does a 32-page dossier help us win on Saturday?
Truth be told it doesn’t!
On paper we, Platinum Stars, are a mid-table team with a moderate budget competing in the South African Premier League. We are known for our attractive, attacking, passing football. We are not one of the traditional “BIG CLUBS” in the league and cannot, with respect, compete financially with the more affluent clubs. However, on the pitch, where it matters, we have been extremely successful despite our limitations. We have finished 2nd and 3rd in the PSL and won 2 trophies: the MTN 8 and TELKOM knockout and this season we qualified for the CAF Confederations CUP (Europa League equivalent); we are currently in the last 16 before the group stages of said competition.
We have also produced a number of youth players through our academy and promoted 8 players into our senior team, more than any other SA side, including Ajax Cape Town. Not only have these youngsters been promoted but they have played an integral part in our climb up the table this season, playing consistently in the league and cup competitions.
So, how did we do it?
There are obviously multiple factors and personnel that are part of that answer and everyone, led by the management and Head Coach, work hard together as team. That said, one extremely important factor in our growth and success is undoubtedly, our approach to analysis.
My role at the Club is the 1st team Assistant Coach. My duties include coaching responsibilities, but also the analysis of our opposition and our own performance analysis. A very busy job to say the least. Simply put, my job entails me finding a way to beat the opposition and to improve our strategy.
We do not have the budget of other clubs nor the resources so we have to approach things slightly differently.
LongoMatch PRO has been that solution for us and for me!
For me, there are no solutions in mountains of data. There is so little I can tell about an opponent’s strengths or weaknesses from the pages and pages of numbers, columns and rows. The Data in my opinion is so flawed and not trustworthy to base my whole Football and Coaching opinion on. Every situation and therefore, each set of data in Football, is subjective to so many elements that coming up with a Tactical Plan for an opponent or a player is practically impossible.
I use my coaching experience, qualifications and LongoMatch Pro to win games. All I want to do on a Saturday is win! All my board, fans and support staff want on a Saturday is for our team to win. They do not care how many passes we made or how many final 3rd entries we make or how many high speed runs a player made. They only want 3 points.
Platinum Stars/Alan Clark approach with LongoMatch PRO:
As a coach, numbers don’t excite me. Situations do. Situations that we as a team can exploit in the opponent, situations that we as team need to be aware of, so that as a coach, I can offer solutions to deal with.
I watch games of our opposition and I am able to cut out situations that I would like to share with the rest of the technical team as well as with the players. With LongoMatch PRO, I am able to create my own Dashboard where I can see clips of the opposition’s build-up play, the areas that they apply pressure to win possession; I can see their defensive line and which players they commit to attack and when, for example. All of which cannot be seen in the mountains of data provided by other tools. I focus purely on finding opposition weaknesses and coming up with a tactical plan to attack them, in order to win.
I can categorize team and group actions that I want to see or that could be important, all customized to our ideas and approach to opponents, which makes our analysis and dashboards unique.
The presentations tool is fantastic and helps me show the players, what I see as a coach. I highlight areas in which I want them to focus.
As I alluded to previously, we have a clearly defined philosophy. Our playing style is evident and apparent in all that we do. So therefore, it’s natural that Performance Analysis of our players is the same, unique to us. We look at clearly defined Key Performance Indicators and not just generic data. I have created our own Performance Analysis dashboard that allows us to look at players in line with our playing philosophy.
Scounting and Youth
Our unique dashboard, allows us to measure youth in a similar mold to the senior team. We are also able to track players using our data alone to make decision regarding recruitment. If players are measured in areas that are important to us, we as coaches can make better decisions regarding the recruiting and releasing players in line with our own philosophy and not generic data that is churned out by the page.
LongoMatch PRO is the most unique, comprehensive and inexpensive professional analysis tool in the world, and has contributed to our success in many areas. It makes me a more successful, professional and efficient coach.