Football is a numbers game for analyst Liam

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MEET one of the lesser known members Blackpool FC’s backroom staff, Liam Sweeting.

While many of you may not be familiar with the name, he’s now a vital part of Pool’s pre-match preparations.

Blackpool Match Analyst Liam Sweeting

Blackpool Match Analyst Liam Sweeting

Sweeting is the club’s Head of Performance Analysis and is responsible for providing valuable data on the Seasiders, and their opponents.

He was brought in by Ian Holloway during Pool’s Premier League season, and has already reported to three different bosses during his short spell at Bloomfield Road.

Something which he’s loved.

“Ollie was very much about ourselves and would create a very basic picture of the opposition and completely focus on us,” said Sweeting.

“Then you would have Michael Appleton who was hugely intent on the opposition and wanted to make sure the lads were aware of everything they did and I think now we are just about finding a middle ground.

“That’s good because in my personal opinion you have got to have some element of yourself, as with this group of players it has worked before, but also we are a good team and one of the top teams in the Championship and teams are changing in respect of what we do and how we set up, so we need to be looking at the opposition and what they might do to stop us.”

Sweeting studied Sports Coaching at the University of Central Lancashire before joining Holloway’s staff initially on a internship before impressing and being offered a full-time role.

He provides players with statistics on their performance, such as ball retention and success in tackles.

But the main part of his role involved analysing Pool’s opposition each week, before presenting his findings to the first team squad.

He said: “Usually I’ll do a presentation for the team before each game outlining the strengths and weaknesses of the opposition.

“You have to split your time up between post-match analysis and pre-match opposition analysis.

“Following a game on a Saturday we would gather it all together when everybody is off.

“Under the new management, we tend to watch the game back on the Monday afternoon after training.

“We will have a statistical report from Prozone and obviously each of the coaches has their opinion on the game and how we’ve performed and we will match their thoughts up with the video.

“The new manager has implemented a review system where we might take certain things from the video and present it to the players so they can see for themselves what happened in the game and the reasons behind it.

“We are trying to create a profile of what we think is a successful performance by stats.

“Particularly at home where we have had to adapt our playing style, we need to make sure we are having a certain number of final third entries or penalty area entries or crosses into the box because we know we have got to play in the right areas.

“We did a lot of work on how the pitch was affecting our style of play as we are trying to play the way we have played in the past three years, but it’s not been effective on that surface so we have had to adapt it and possibly play to the conditions a little bit more and increase our final third entries when we are at home.”

Blackpool recently invested in Prozone, which is a software used by all Championship clubs and helps analyse match day performance.

Sweeting explained: “All 24 Championship clubs are working with Prozone now, albeit on different levels as there are different packages available for whatever you need.

“The top package shows you how far the players have run etc. but we get a technical package that gives us all the stats we need.

“It completely wipes the slate clean because you don’t know what they want.

“Really tiny little things of how they want things displayed, whether that be how much they want to show the lads after the game or pre-match and how they want to display the opposition.”

Pool have recently added to their analyst staff, with the appointment of Adam Dixon, who works with Sweeting and concentrates on player performance and the youth set up.

“Adam has been invaluable because the department has moved on so much this year with getting Prozone,” said Sweeting.

“We keep a log of everybody’s stats so that, for example Stephen Crainey knows his averages and Adam does all that.

“Crains knows that in a normal game on a Saturday he has about 30-35 passes and he usually does about 29 out of 35 successful so when he comes to me on a Monday morning and he gets his stats he’s not just looking at his total number of passes, he knows what that means in comparison to the rest of the season.

“He will know if he’s retained the ball well or not, so rather than just presenting loads of stats we try and say what they mean and Adam does all that.

“He logs it all in a database and he will keep the averages whilst at the same time he will do the Youth team with the EPPP (Elite Player Performance Plan) rules, which state that we have to have a log of every match.

“The future is that we will start to compare our Youth team players coming through with our first team players, so our Youth players in the Under 18s can compare what they are doing to the pros.