Rasmus Ankersen, Co-Director of Football at Brentford FC and Chairman of Danish Superliga club FC Midtjylland, was interviewed for a podcast called ‘Life On Our Terms’ produced by the Open University. He was asked how Brentford choose the players they want to recruit.
“We are in probably the ultimate people business .Our product is eleven guys going on the pitch and trying to score more goals than the opposition. So we need to be building teams and identifying talent and for me one of the really key things is to understand is that great talent is not necessarily right talent.
“So there’s a lot of great talent out there but what is the right talent for us? Where does it fit into our team structure, what is the profile we look for? That’s why we put a lot of effort into describing the player we want and then we go out and try and find exactly what we are looking for.
“Data is always part of when we recruit new players, sometimes data helps us flag up a player we were not aware of, sometimes data is more a due diligence measure at the end of the process, it very much depends. One big thing for us is sample size, when you watch a player you want to watch as many times as possible so you see him on good days, on bad days, and you have a large amount of evidence from which you can take your decision.
“The problem is if we are hoping to go out and watch all the games it is very time-consuming, it is resource consuming for people to travel to stadiums and watch games. Data can give you a summary of a player’s performance over a larger sample, say 50 games, that’s very important. One thing that we’ve used a lot is what we call ‘wisdom of the crowds’ so when we look at a player we spend a lot of time actually speaking to the fans of the club where the player plays, we look at the fans forum online. If 2,000 fans have seen this player 50 times each and there is a pattern in what they describe that’s very valuable information and that’s also about creating a bigger sample to get your information from”.
You can hear the podcast here