Murtough leading development of Man Utd data science strategy
Written by Simon Austin — March 26, 2020
MANCHESTER UNITED Head of Football Development John Murtough is heading up a working group developing the club’s data science strategy.
Unlike rivals such as Manchester City, Liverpool and Leicester City, United do not currently have a single data scientist on the football side of their business. Data scientists can be simply characterised as people who gain insights from data, using computer modelling and advanced statistical analysis to do so.
The club do have data scientists on the corporate side, known as programmers; and they do have data analysts on the football side, but no data scientists on the football side.
As has been reported elsewhere, the club have employed headhunters to interview candidates who might potentially head up the department but, contrary to these reports, the job title and scope hasn’t yet been decided and an appointment is not imminent.
Club owners the Glazers are understood to be fully behind the project, although there is no pressure to deliver, even before the start of next season (whenever that may be).
Instead, the three-man group is developing ‘proof of concept’ for the owners, who will then decide whether or not to sign off on it.
Murtough’s working party will recommend which departments should be involved in data science (likely to be coaching, sports science, medical, education, analytics and recruitment), what the inputs and outputs into the department should be, which roles are required (likely to be engineers, analysts and data scientists) and the profiles of the appointments that need to be made.
The head of department, who is yet to be appointed, will then have a say in which appointments are made, once he or she is in place.