United appoint Dominic Jordan as director of data science

Abraxas

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Hard to figure out what the issue is here. We've got a bloke with extensive experience in data science and management and...it's...a problem.. because the other bloke wrote a journal pre-football?

Christ, we really are scraping the barrel for things to be concerned about.
 

phelans shorts

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Hard to figure out what the issue is here. We've got a bloke with extensive experience in data science and management and...it's...a problem.. because the other bloke wrote a journal pre-football?

Christ, we really are scraping the barrel for things to be concerned about.
Look, you just don’t understand, Higgs-Boson is the best wide forward in the world right now
 

The Red Thinker

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Hard to figure out what the issue is here. We've got a bloke with extensive experience in data science and management and...it's...a problem.. because the other bloke wrote a journal pre-football?

Christ, we really are scraping the barrel for things to be concerned about.
Wasn’t criticising the appointment. Only saying it could have been better.

Also, it’s not some “journal” ffs. To have a paper that appears at MIT Sloan is a massive deal. Goes to show how pioneering his ideas were at the time.
 

Abraxas

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Wasn’t criticising the appointment. Only saying it could have been better.

Also, it’s not some “journal” ffs. To have a paper that appears at MIT Sloan is a massive deal. Goes to show how pioneering his ideas were at the time.
We don't really know how much better it could have been, that seems a bit presumptuous. Wouldn't you need to know the applicants or the candidates procured via whatever headhunting procedure? Then you could say on a surface level what looks better. Then you also have to match it to the role. Director implies organiser, strategist, manager, not just any bloke that appears very smart in data science - a lot of personality and experience is important.

The only weakness I see in his background is football experience. Maybe that wasn't readily available, or the structure of the team will dictate that it isn't fundamental. I'm not sure but it you compare it to the Liverpool guy if that's to be taken as a huge success, he also didn't have massive industry experience. I'm not sure but maybe that indicates that experience isn't always available or the club's believe the skillset is easily applicable to football.
 

The Red Thinker

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We don't really know how much better it could have been, that seems a bit presumptuous. Wouldn't you need to know the applicants or the candidates procured via whatever headhunting procedure? Then you could say on a surface level what looks better. Then you also have to match it to the role. Director implies organiser, strategist, manager, not just any bloke that appears very smart in data science - a lot of personality and experience is important.

The only weakness I see in his background is football experience. Maybe that wasn't readily available, or the structure of the team will dictate that it isn't fundamental. I'm not sure but it you compare it to the Liverpool guy if that's to be taken as a huge success, he also didn't have massive industry experience. I'm not sure but maybe that indicates that experience isn't always available or the club's believe the skillset is easily applicable to football.
I see your point that a Director is an organiser, leader and team builder. But don’t you think how interesting it is that Liverpool went the other way? They don’t have a Director for that. The guy running that department is the “Lead Data Scientist”.
Our’s more corporate, their’s almost more functional. I see it as unnecessary red tape. To me the guy running the department needs to be the innovator. Kind of like how the manager of a football club can’t just be a leader and delegator. He needs to have the ideas too. Time will tell if Dominic Jordan can empower his team to be superstar data scientists.
 

Mmm-Qatarian

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Guys… I know random bump. BUT, I was just curious about our Director of Data Sciences and checked his resume.

2020-22 - Director of Data Science at N Brown Group

2011-20 - Chief Data Scientist at INRIX (logistics)

2006-11 - Head of Innovations at ITIS holdings (traffic)

1999-06 - Data Systems Manager at NUS (Student services)

I understand there aren’t very many sports data scientists out there of high caliber, but this guy doesn’t have any sporting background and has worked at… let’s say not well known positions. But he’s a Manchester lad and fan and has a degree from Cambridge. So clearly smart.

Then I checked Liverpool’s Lead Data Scientist… William Spearman. Let me start at his beginning to give proper context:

2005-08 - 2 Bachelor’s Degrees - Arts and Physics! University of Dallas


2007- Summer Student at CERN

2008- 09 - Fulbright Scholar at University of Geneva!

2009-14 - Masters in Physics, PhD in Particle Physics! Thesis: TO MEASURE THE HIGGS feckING BOSON!

2011-13 - He was a graduate student AT CERN TRYING TO FIND THE HIGGS BOSON!
Higgs Boson was detected in 2012… HE WAS THERE!


He then completely switched tracks to football! I mean you achieved your peak in particle physics what else would you do!

2014-2018 - He worked on the concept of pitch control visualisation. He studied passing, open space and scoring to power his model. His paper ended up at MIT Sloan as a breakthrough in using geo-spatial data to model pass probabilities.

2018 - Liverpool and the rest is history.

Compare the two and tell me how you feel.
I find it a tad strange that you're putting such heavy emphasis on William Spearman's educational background as being extremely impressive (which it is, no denying), but are also entirely dismissive of the fact that Dominic Jordan has a degree in Mathematics from Cambridge University. Obviously it's not a sure-fire guarantee of general intelligence but equally that's not a qualification that idiots generally find it easy to attain.
 

F-Red

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I see your point that a Director is an organiser, leader and team builder. But don’t you think how interesting it is that Liverpool went the other way? They don’t have a Director for that. The guy running that department is the “Lead Data Scientist”.
Our’s more corporate, their’s almost more functional. I see it as unnecessary red tape. To me the guy running the department needs to be the innovator. Kind of like how the manager of a football club can’t just be a leader and delegator. He needs to have the ideas too. Time will tell if Dominic Jordan can empower his team to be superstar data scientists.
Not really, you're comparing the role with a part of Liverpool's success and therefore equating that their model on data science is the way forward. Jordan clearly has credentials in the field and knows how to build a data science team. We're going to need a function and a team built in that area, irrespective of which manager is in charge.
 

Luffy

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I expect him to have zero tolerance for slackers. He’ll probably use his Maths skills to divide and conquer. I might be wrong, but could be a mean guy.
 

tomaldinho1

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I find it a tad strange that you're putting such heavy emphasis on William Spearman's educational background as being extremely impressive (which it is, no denying), but are also entirely dismissive of the fact that Dominic Jordan has a degree in Mathematics from Cambridge University. Obviously it's not a sure-fire guarantee of general intelligence but equally that's not a qualification that idiots generally find it easy to attain.
Also the poster is falling into the trap of seeing something that was mainstream news (Higgs Boson research) and, I’m assuming, not being familiar with N Brown or Inrix and assuming one is better than the other. City have a PhD guy who was at a hedge fund, worked for the gov and most recently was lecturing at Harvard, well PhDs are clever, I know what the government is and I’ve heard of Harvard he must be perfect!

Let’s be honest, we don’t have a clue who is going to be ‘better’.
 

Adnan

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I think Jordan is hired to build our data science department. Like Hunter at Liverpool. Spearman is just the guy doing the work. In other words, Jordan needs to hire a Spearman.
Bingo.

It's well documented both via the media and certain podcasts that Jordan is going to have a team of people working under him. So the comparison here should be with Ian Graham who has created/leads a team of 6, which includes Spearman.

Dominic Jordan only started in his new role at United in March this year, so i'm sure we'll here news about the personnel that makes up his team in the coming months.
 

The Red Thinker

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I can see overwhelmingly the Caf has swatted away my opinion. To be fair your arguments make sense. I wasn’t being dismissive of Jordan at all. I was saying Liverpool have it better. I’m completely with @andersj on hiring a Spearman. Let’s hope he gets it done. I’ll stand by my opinion that though Jordan might do a good job, someone with a proven track record in sports may have done it better. All the CERN stuff was an add on because my god Spearman is a bonafide genius working as a football scientist!
 

Adnan

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I can see overwhelmingly the Caf has swatted away my opinion. To be fair your arguments make sense. I wasn’t being dismissive of Jordan at all. I was saying Liverpool have it better. I’m completely with @andersj on hiring a Spearman. Let’s hope he gets it done. I’ll stand by my opinion that though Jordan might do a good job, someone with a proven track record in sports may have done it better. All the CERN stuff was an add on because my god Spearman is a bonafide genius working as a football scientist!
Your opinion is valid and you have every right to raise it. But I would suggest we wait and see who Dominic Jordan brings in to aid him and the football side of the club. Jordan only started in his role in March this year.

And the data scientists are only as good as the people guiding them on the football side of the club. And Spearman's background involved American Sports and not the sport of football (Soccer). His experience in football only started in 2015, and he admitted he knew very little about the game. He went on to say that sports like football were much harder to quantify than the sports he was used to, that were very stop start in the USA.

If I was to make a calculated guess, I'd say Dominic Jordan knows more about the game of football than William Spearman. And that's purely down to where both men were brought up and Spearman admitting he knows very little about the game.
 

fallengt

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Did we fire the team that analyzed 300 RBs and picked AWB yet?
 

Tavern in the town

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Your opinion is valid and you have every right to raise it. But I would suggest we wait and see who Dominic Jordan brings in to aid him and the football side of the club. Jordan only started in his role in March this year.

And the data scientists are only as good as the people guiding them on the football side of the club. And Spearman's background involved American Sports and not the sport of football (Soccer). His experience in football only started in 2015, and he admitted he knew very little about the game. He went on to say that sports like football were much harder to quantify than the sports he was used to, that were very stop start in the USA.

If I was to make a calculated guess, I'd say Dominic Jordan knows more about the game of football than William Spearman. And that's purely down to where both men were brought up and Spearman admitting he knows very little about the game.
That’s not definitely a good thing. It may well be, but there’s an argument to be made that someone who has no preconceived notions of the game can assess things more objectively when it comes to things like analytics. Ian Graham himself never says a player has had a good game until he’s seen the statistics afterwards.
 

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I can see overwhelmingly the Caf has swatted away my opinion. To be fair your arguments make sense. I wasn’t being dismissive of Jordan at all. I was saying Liverpool have it better. I’m completely with @andersj on hiring a Spearman. Let’s hope he gets it done. I’ll stand by my opinion that though Jordan might do a good job, someone with a proven track record in sports may have done it better. All the CERN stuff was an add on because my god Spearman is a bonafide genius working as a football scientist!
Come come, we all know you mixed it up and thought he had discovered the GIGGS BOSOM, that’s why you thought he is clues up.

Have you ever seen a Higgs boson attack the space?
 

Adnan

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That’s not definitely a good thing. It may well be, but there’s an argument to be made that someone who has no preconceived notions of the game can assess things more objectively when it comes to things like analytics. Ian Graham himself never says a player has had a good game until he’s seen the statistics afterwards.
Ian Graham and his team only came to prominence at Liverpool when Klopp arrived. And it was understanding Klopp's approach to the game which was the key, and not any preconceived notions that Graham or anyone else had. Graham and his team adapted their approach to Klopp who had a set defined way of playing the game.

Dominic Jordan will also have to adapt his approach to understanding high intensity positional play with and without the ball. And that's exactly what happened at Ajax with the head of data science (Vosse de Boode) who has gone on record and said that without being guided by the football experts at the club, she'd be lost attempting to make sense of the data.
 

Skills

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Data science in football is still fairly novel, and even the guys with experience have circa 10 years of experience so that points a bit moot.

In fact in situations like these, the pioneers/first ones aren't usually the best. The standard of data scientists in football will improve when more talented/clever people start considering it as a career pathway.
 

Adnan

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Data science in football is still fairly novel, and even the guys with experience have circa 10 years of experience so that points a bit moot.

In fact in situations like these, the pioneers/first ones aren't usually the best. The standard of data scientists in football will improve when more talented/clever people start considering it as a career pathway.
Agreed.

Too many clubs have been asleep for too long, which gave certain clubs a big advantage. And in Liverpool's case, they were failing for a very long time and it was the logical step for them to look outside of the box.
 

Tarrou

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It's not that hard anyway lads

just get a premium account with Opta and create tables in excel to sort the columns from high to low
 

0le

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Guys… I know random bump. BUT, I was just curious about our Director of Data Sciences and checked his resume.

2020-22 - Director of Data Science at N Brown Group

2011-20 - Chief Data Scientist at INRIX (logistics)

2006-11 - Head of Innovations at ITIS holdings (traffic)

1999-06 - Data Systems Manager at NUS (Student services)

I understand there aren’t very many sports data scientists out there of high caliber, but this guy doesn’t have any sporting background and has worked at… let’s say not well known positions. But he’s a Manchester lad and fan and has a degree from Cambridge. So clearly smart.

Then I checked Liverpool’s Lead Data Scientist… William Spearman. Let me start at his beginning to give proper context:

2005-08 - 2 Bachelor’s Degrees - Arts and Physics! University of Dallas


2007- Summer Student at CERN

2008- 09 - Fulbright Scholar at University of Geneva!

2009-14 - Masters in Physics, PhD in Particle Physics! Thesis: TO MEASURE THE HIGGS feckING BOSON!

2011-13 - He was a graduate student AT CERN TRYING TO FIND THE HIGGS BOSON!
Higgs Boson was detected in 2012… HE WAS THERE!


He then completely switched tracks to football! I mean you achieved your peak in particle physics what else would you do!

2014-2018 - He worked on the concept of pitch control visualisation. He studied passing, open space and scoring to power his model. His paper ended up at MIT Sloan as a breakthrough in using geo-spatial data to model pass probabilities.

2018 - Liverpool and the rest is history.

Compare the two and tell me how you feel.
How I feel is that United made the correct decision and that you also have no idea what PhD's are.
 

cyril C

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I think this is more of a club appointment rather than OGS getting someone new in. This guy will probably create new systems to benefit analysis in scouting and performance if anything. He’ll be the guy showing them how it works and how they use it.
I doubt it. There is official / comprehensive performance stats data published on EPL games, perhaps in many leagues as well. So why re-invent the wheel? In leagues that have no such data, you have to rely on scouts.

Sacking the 2 useless scout heads was the most crucial step.

IMO, any such system that we develop, is most likely on our own players, including Academy / U21, since club can collect more data compared with external vendor.
 

The Red Thinker

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I doubt it. There is official / comprehensive performance stats data published on EPL games, perhaps in many leagues as well. So why re-invent the wheel? In leagues that have no such data, you have to rely on scouts.

Sacking the 2 useless scout heads was the most crucial step.

IMO, any such system that we develop, is most likely on our own players, including Academy / U21, since club can collect more data compared with external vendor.
Actually, though you may have comprehensive data from the EPL, it may not be suited for you. So Jordan needs to create a team that very specifically studies attributes needed for the ETH system and creates a mode under which certain players meet the criteria. It’s not reinvention. It’s data efficiency and targeted data collection. There will also be some very custom parameters that only suit Ten Hag. More and more such layers are added to create the Manchester United Recruitment Data Model.
 

cyril C

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Actually, though you may have comprehensive data from the EPL, it may not be suited for you. So Jordan needs to create a team that very specifically studies attributes needed for the ETH system and creates a mode under which certain players meet the criteria. It’s not reinvention. It’s data efficiency and targeted data collection. There will also be some very custom parameters that only suit Ten Hag. More and more such layers are added to create the Manchester United Recruitment Data Model.
If the raw data itself is not available from EPL, where can you get them? You can't, right? So only your own team's data, plus the naked eyes of scouts, that you can develope on.

It is possible that you think Opta or other providers analysis is inadequate, so you set up a small team in providing more spreadsheet and reports. But these are nothing new, I thought university's sport science program already train up thousands of graduates on moneyball, just a matter of new interpretation from different angle, more colourful powerpoint, to satisfy CEO that don't understand their business.
 

bringbackbebe

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Guys… I know random bump. BUT, I was just curious about our Director of Data Sciences and checked his resume.

2020-22 - Director of Data Science at N Brown Group

2011-20 - Chief Data Scientist at INRIX (logistics)

2006-11 - Head of Innovations at ITIS holdings (traffic)

1999-06 - Data Systems Manager at NUS (Student services)

I understand there aren’t very many sports data scientists out there of high caliber, but this guy doesn’t have any sporting background and has worked at… let’s say not well known positions. But he’s a Manchester lad and fan and has a degree from Cambridge. So clearly smart.

Then I checked Liverpool’s Lead Data Scientist… William Spearman. Let me start at his beginning to give proper context:

2005-08 - 2 Bachelor’s Degrees - Arts and Physics! University of Dallas


2007- Summer Student at CERN

2008- 09 - Fulbright Scholar at University of Geneva!

2009-14 - Masters in Physics, PhD in Particle Physics! Thesis: TO MEASURE THE HIGGS feckING BOSON!

2011-13 - He was a graduate student AT CERN TRYING TO FIND THE HIGGS BOSON!
Higgs Boson was detected in 2012… HE WAS THERE!


He then completely switched tracks to football! I mean you achieved your peak in particle physics what else would you do!

2014-2018 - He worked on the concept of pitch control visualisation. He studied passing, open space and scoring to power his model. His paper ended up at MIT Sloan as a breakthrough in using geo-spatial data to model pass probabilities.

2018 - Liverpool and the rest is history.

Compare the two and tell me how you feel.
I've worked with/managed people who've been "there" during the Higgs Boson discovery phase who later transitioned into analytics and I can tell you this - while they all have ~ MIT/Stanford/Univ of Michigan degrees, not all of them are analytically capable beyond their traditional area of working. Most of their approach to real world problems were a joke & it was very visible when a business problem had to be solved. If this guy made it, he is an exception. This isn't the path that's necessary for success.
 

Adnan

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Dominic Jordan (Head of data science) is putting in place his team of data scientists on the football side of the club. So like I've mentioned previously, it's not the DoF who revamps the scouting or data science departments but rather those people the DoF puts in charge of the respective departments on the football side of the club.


Training ground guru: "Earlier this year, Jordan was included in Data IQ’s list of the 100 most influential people in data. He said: “At the time of writing I am about to start my job at Manchester United, where I expect data to be transformational, as the club is very much looking to be dominant in this space.”
 

sullydnl

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Out of curiosity, how analytics-orientated are Ajax as a club? Wondering about the degree of infrastructure/support ETH would have had in that regard there versus here.
 

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Snake Oil! Why can't we just use our network of ex-players-turned-managers for recommendations and/or sign players who had a decent game against us one time? Worked for SAF!
 

Gentleman Jim

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Looking to become "dominant"?

From playing catch up would parity with other top clubs not be a more realistic aim?
One step at a time should be the objective.
 

I’m loving my life

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We need Steve Round and Jimmy Old Dude or whatever he is called to get us moving with the times, not this bunch of charlatans
 

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Would love to know what a data scientist within a football club does all day? How much data is there on players? Suppose it’s only going in one direction!
 

Adnan

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Out of curiosity, how analytics-orientated are Ajax as a club? Wondering about the degree of infrastructure/support ETH would have had in that regard there versus here.
Ajax like other clubs utilise data to back up the eye test. The eye test is crucial towards understanding what is required before the data plays a part in helping with the decision making process and minimising the mitigating factors and associated risks.

At Ajax, the data analytics along with the sports science side of the football club is led by Vosse de Boode. And she has gone on record and said that without the guidance of the football experts at the club, like Henk Veldmate, she wouldn't be able to function effectively in her role when it comes to applying the data.

At Liverpool, Michael Edwards recently wrote a open letter to the Liverpool fans before he stepped down as the DoF at the club. And he clearly stated that the two head scouts (Barry Hunter & Dave Fallows) were absolutely integral in Liverpool's success and the data analytics was important but they didn't sign players 'off stats'. But the data was applied to help minimise the risk factors, which is important.

And I often see people saying, we need a DoF because he needs to have contacts etc, which will help us sign players more effectively. But Edwards in his open letter stated that the person with the contacts/connections at the club was the Chief Scout, Barry Hunter, who has a contacts book that reads like a who’s who of football.

It's important to cover all bases and leave no stone unturned. So it's good to see that we're going to hopefully back up the eye test with the help of a dedicated team of data scientists, which will hopefully be very important in reducing the associated risks when it comes to signing players and also aid the coaching staff via the sports science side at the club, as well as strategically in-game whilst the game is in progress.
 

Glorio

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Would love to know what a data scientist within a football club does all day? How much data is there on players? Suppose it’s only going in one direction!
Probably creating and adapting a number of predictive models
 

Sparky Rhiwabon

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Dominic Jordan (Head of data science) is putting in place his team of data scientists on the football side of the club. So like I've mentioned previously, it's not the DoF who revamps the scouting or data science departments but rather those people the DoF puts in charge of the respective departments on the football side of the club.


Training ground guru: "Earlier this year, Jordan was included in Data IQ’s list of the 100 most influential people in data. He said: “At the time of writing I am about to start my job at Manchester United, where I expect data to be transformational, as the club is very much looking to be dominant in this space.”
Why has it taken him over a year to start doing this?
 
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