Gareth Southgate using data to help whittle down England squad for Euro 2020

England manager Gareth Southgate
(Image credit: Nick Potts)

Gareth Southgate and his coaching staff are drilling into data as England whittle their expanded group down to a final Euro 2020 squad.

A truncated, challenging campaign was compounded by a large number of English players being involved in the continental finals, leading the Three Lions boss to put off naming his 26-man selection.

Southgate last week instead named a 33-strong provisional group to deal with those complications, but he has plenty of tough calls to make before submitting his squad to UEFA on Tuesday.

With so many issues to consider and absent stars, the Football Association is using data to inform its decisions and assess where players’ fitness stands after such a strenuous season.

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GPS provider STATSports have had an employee embedded with England ahead of the rearranged Euros and are providing analysts with data on all 33 players.

“I think really savvy, good teams are using data to really understand what the players are capable of, the thresholds that those players will have, and then how to use that,” chief operating officer Sean O’Connor told PA.

“England are a great example with a fantastic backroom team using bespoke metrics and analysis, which the coaching staff and players all understand.

“England, like a lot of our teams, will use the live data to be able to see on the spot if they’re hitting those markers or if they’re not, so they don’t in most cases overdo it as opposed to undercook it.

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“The data can be really a key factor for the coaching and backroom staff to consider. Look, it’s not the only thing that these guys consider when making decisions. Far from it.

“Lots of other information and non-statistical considerations go into the melting pot to help you make decisions, but our data that lets you understand your players, taking an accurate snapshot of them at that given time.

“What we will help with, is that before the players even come into the hotel or come into the camp we will have guys who will be either embedded within the background team or supporting the backroom team to help them get data from players. This goes for all the international teams we work with at the Euros.

“The FA will work closely with the players’ clubs to get data on each individual before they come through the door, so that they get a good picture, a good understanding, of where the players arrived and help them then.

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“It’s in the interest of both the club and the federation that they fully understand the position of the player at any given time to be able to make sure they cross the white line on game day in the best possible shape.”

As well as your typical player distance and speed measurements, national teams are leaning more on metrics like stress scores and load scores to establish profiles of players.

“Our clients do help us drive the future of the products from metrics to where they want it to go and this is an example of it,” said O’Connor, with Germany, Scotland, Belgium and Portugal among the 11 teams using STATSports at the Euros.

“As a company, we’re embedded within the FA in that we have one of our staff as part of a contract that does at least two days a week within St George Park, to help them with the data.

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“In the lead up to this tournament, we’ve been working with them more, so essentially five days a week with the FA, working with them to help prepare for this camp.”

Fellow company co-founder Alan Clarke worked as GPS analyst during Fabio Capello’s reign of England, whose current national captain Harry Kane has now invested in STATSports.

Raheem Sterling and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain were initial backers in the company, with Kane, Harry Maguire, Phil Foden and Steph Houghton joining as the latest investors.

Harry Kane, Harry Maguire and Raheem Sterling are investors in STATSports (STATSports/handout)

Harry Kane, Harry Maguire and Raheem Sterling are investors in STATSports (STATSports/handout)

“They’re not just sitting silently investing their money and standing back,” O’Connor added.

“They’ve used our products throughout their careers. They have some really good ideas and insights because they’re at the coalface.

“The England players are using the technology every day to achieve their maximum and so they know the value in it and the importance of feedback.”

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