Sam Allardyce Exclusive: Signing A Player Solely On Data Is Risky
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Sam Allardyce Exclusive: Signing A Player Solely On Data Is Risky

Experienced manager Sam Allardyce believes that only relying on data for recruitment is a risky strategy – and feels traditional scouting is still crucial in order to succeed. Analytics tools have grown in popularity when determining a club's transfer targets, but the 67-year-old insists in-person scouting remains a necessary part of the process. Allardyce also thinks that a manager's competence in the transfer market can often be defined by the success of the first name through the door.



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Understanding Recruitment Policy 

Speaking exclusively to Genting, he said: “When you're looking at the January window, the first thing you need to know is the recruitment policy at the club. 

“In fact, you ask that in your interview because that could be a [key factor in] whether you take the job or you don't. 

“Recruitment at the moment tends to revolve around data alone – and that is rather dangerous. Foregoing scouts to purely rely on analytics is massively, massively risky. 

“Stats tell you about a player’s attributes, but don’t tell you about his mental state, his capabilities of playing away from home, or give you the character of the player. 

“I spent a huge amount of time combining the technical data with scouting on the road. Unfortunately, analysts are doing most of the scouting – or not doing the scouting now – but clubs use data to sign the player, and I think that’s hugely risky. 

“Your first signing has to be a good one. They cannot be a failure. You will get hammered straightaway on social media, by the fans, in the press, and everyone will think that you don’t know what you’re doing in the market.”

Allardyce's Explains His Policy

Allardyce also explained his recruitment process, having taken charge of eight Premier League clubs over a 30-year managerial career.

“So as a manager, I would sit for hours and hours with the staff and the recruitment lads, looking at their recommendations,” he continued. 

“Then we would compile the recommendations from agents and look at those. We’d then draw up a shortlist and look where it falls within our financial capabilities. 

“A lot of them are dismissed based on finances or the player not wanting to come. You trudge through that constantly, day-by-day. 

“Obviously, if you get in well before January, you would start that process as early as possible. That's the January window for you.  

“And then, depending on the recruitment policy, say, ‘this is the man for me,’ and hope everybody else agrees. 

“Sometimes, not everybody agrees and sometimes you don't get what you want, so you move on to the next one and the next one, until you actually get somebody that you feel is better than what you've got. 

“In the early days, I have taken a player for the sake of it in the hope – and I say ‘hope’ – that he would be better, and deep down inside I probably knew that he wasn't going to be, and that always turned out to be the case. 

“Whereas most of the others have helped me save the clubs from relegation. Most of the signings I made at Blackburn, Sunderland, Crystal Palace, even Everton.  

“It got us better, it made us better. Even West Brom, even though we didn’t avoid relegation, we got so much better as a team – but not quite good enough to stay up.

“All the stats showed a massive improvement, but we just didn't have the one element that we needed, and that was the ultimate goalscorer, and not quite enough clean sheets either. We improved, but not quite enough to stay up.”

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V: 1.22.1 All rights reserved. August 2021
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