There is a saying going around the internet at the moment stating that ‘If you’re not paying for it, you are the product’ , think Facebook, Google, Twitter etc… As most of you will have heard Manchester City and Opta have released an extremely comprehensive data set – FOR FREE. From the outset this initiative seems to be more about philanthropy than any product and could be the first step in a major push forward for analytics in football.
After requesting a copy of the initial data set, I waited keenly for the data set to arrive and I wasn’t disappointed. I did see quite a few comments on Twitter, where people weren’t happy with the quantity of data but most of the dissenting voices were advanced data analysts who would love to get there hands on more information (mainly xy data). Man City have stated they will accommodate these people down the line as the level and format of the data requires more expertise than excel.
If you’re interested in getting your hands on the data yourself click here. I’ve already done so and had a little play with the information.
You can check out some of the interesting things that have been done with the information already on the optasportspro blog.
Raising The Bar
Jobs: I really believe this information will raise the standard of a number of things. One of the biggest differences it should make is to students or recent graduates trying to find work. You won’t get away with the excuse, in an interview, that ‘if I had the data I would do this, that and the other’. The data set may not allow you be the next Bill James but there is certainly enough information in there to make an impression on a perspective employer. It provides a real opportunity to use real information to show off your skills. But be careful, knowing the limitations of this information might be as important.
Dissertation/Thesis: This information should raise the standard of college work. A big limitation of dissertations/theses is that the data collection can form such a huge part of the time invested, however now that obstacle has been somewhat cleared it should allow students spend longer analysing and interpreting the information rather than just collecting it.
Competition: This is a fantastic initiative and no doubt as the project grows we will see more data released and even more interesting analysis conducted. However this is bad news for all you mediocre analysts out there, especially those currently looking for work. I know if I was an employer I would be expecting to see proof of ‘how much you love football’ and ‘your life’s ambition is to be an analyst’, if you came for an interview with me and hadn’t done anything with a data set of this quality I would be disappointed. What an opportunity to display your skills, whether that be in pure analysis or perhaps just data visualization. If statistical analysis isn’t your thing you could take some basic information and create a slick, user friendly dashboard with the information.
The MCFC Analytics project is a good step forward and creates some great opportunities but only if you have the desire to better than the rest. If you want to download the data your self check it out here.