Everywhere you look data has taken over football as more pundits, writers and supporters focus on statistics. Do you know your expected goals (or xG) from your passes allowed per defensive action (or PPDA)?
At Wolves they have a 10-strong analysis department led by Mat Pearson, with five dedicated to the first team and five to the academy, while head of coaching strategy Jhony Conceicao and first team analyst Diogo Camacho form part of Bruno Lage’s coaching team and lean on the expertise of the analysis department.
Conceicao and Camacho describe themselves as Lage’s ‘eyes’ and work with the analysis team off the field, as well as Lage and the players on it.
Numbers are still essential to their job in analyzing the team’s performance and preparing a strategy for the upcoming fixtures, but they insist that quality trumps quantity every time.
“We try to work more with qualitative information, but sometimes it’s important to check the numbers as well,” Conceicao said.
“In my point of view, I start my work without numbers. I start to collect the qualitative information and after I cross it with the numbers. If I do the opposite it can influence my opinion when I start looking at the game.
“We can adjust whether our idea is correct or not and change when we see the numbers. In the last 10 years numbers have become very important in the sport.
“Most of the information is through videos and we create similar scenarios from the opponent and then we will discuss it.
“When we choose the videos to show the gaffer, we also try to add some strategic suggestions. We then share opinions among all the staff and the last word is from the gaffer, he chooses the last clips to show to the players.”
Conceicao and Camacho split the work equally to address the game Wolves have just played and the game coming up – while also splitting that into looking at the opponent and Wolves individually, before bringing the information and lessons learned together.
It’s complex to say the least. Then add a mid-week game, particularly a cup game against a lesser known side, and their job becomes even more intense.
“In a normal week with one game Jhony will be more focused on the opponent analysis, but he also looks at the team and I look at the opponent as well,” Camacho said.
“In a normal week I’ll start with our past game and then go to the opponent. If there are weeks with multiple games, we have to share the games between us so we can maximize information.
“We try to be the eyes of the manager and understand everything the opponent does and try to understand deeply what our team does, according to Bruno’s ideas.
“We try to get the maximum amount of information and give the essential information to the rest of the team. Our job is to filter that information to Bruno and the rest of the staff, to get the best performance possible.
“When we look at the opponent we always have our team in mind because the main points are the same.
“If we look at the opponent’s strengths or weaknesses, we look at how we can defend them and attack them, and with our own team we look at what we are doing well and what we should keep improving.
“We try to match what we see in training to what we see in matches. You look for things to improve and then work on that in training.
“It’s not always that we’ve done something wrong, but that the opponent forced us to do it. So, next time we need the right solution.”
Camacho only turned 23-years-old last week and his move to Wolves was his first time working outside of his native Portugal.
He started working as a first team analyst at top flight side Famalicao in 2018 before his move to England last summer, when Lage arrived at the club.
Not only is he delighted with the move and making a real success of it, he is always aiming to bring fresh ideas as the young voice among the staff.
“It was a dream come true,” he said. “It all happened really fast but after a couple of years in Portugal at Famalicao, I gained experience and learned a lot every day.
“Coming here was easier to adapt than I thought, because I’ve never lived abroad. The difference in the competition and the work is good. It’s the top and you have to be 100 percent focused every day.
“Every game is difficult, every training you get something new. You always have to be focused.
“I try to learn from everyone and Johnny has been a great role model for me.
“He has a lot more experience than me and I try to learn everything I can from him. I also try to give what I know to Jhony and the others.”
The work of the analysts is crucial and can be the difference between winning or losing a Premier League game and Conceicao believes Camacho adds plenty of quality to the team.
“Each member of the analysis department is important for our quality,” Conceicao said.
“Diogo is a young boy who started a few years ago at a high level. He is a smart boy and he can bring something new for us. He is important to our staff.”