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Ten Years of


Today marks the blog's ten year anniversary and what a journey it's been!

It all started whilst I was sat in Manchester Airport waiting for a flight to Dubrovnik to present at a scientific conference. I'd been watching Match of the Day the night before and was pondering some comment Alan Shearer had made that baffled me at the time. I can't remember what it was that he'd said but I do remember thinking it couldn't possibly be true.

When I got to my hotel in Dubrovnik, Alan Shearer's comment was still bugging me so I connected to the hotel's internet and started doing some Googling. I soon stumbled upon Simon Gleave's Scoreboard Journalism blog and was inspired to have a go at football analytics myself.

Career Changing

Within a year of starting the blog, I was contacted by a start-up company called Onside Analysis. Based largely on my blog, they offered me a job developing predictive models for the gambling industry and to try and help them expand into working with football clubs. I accepted the role and left the world of scientific reasearch / clinical statistics behind forever to become a data scientist.

Sadly, the role at Onside Analysis didn't last long as they were bought out by another company and I moved on as redundancy was looming. However, I still work within data science now and a large part of my career change was down to this blog.

The Highs and the Lows

Over the years, I've made friends, met interesting people and worked with football clubs and governing bodies all through this blog, which has given me some fantastic (and not so fantastic) experiences.

Some of the highs include my work being mentioned on Rafa Benitez's personal blog, being featured in an article by John Burn-Murdoch in the Daily Telegraph and receiving feedback from a large governing body that Sir Alex Ferguson was impressed by a piece of analysis I'd done for them "despite him not normally liking that football analytics sort of thing" 😆

I've also presented at three Opta Pro conferences, as well as writing a fourth presentation that somebody else gave there on my behalf.

There have been some lows as well. I don't think I'll ever forget the humiliating taxi ride back to the train station after pretty much being laughed out of the room at a Premier League football club. They were a mid-level team at the time and as part of a discussion about helping them with some work they challenged me to prove myself by recommending some attackers that were suitable transfer targets for them.

I enthusiastically made some suggestions based on a model I'd been developing and was laughed at by the entire room, who took great pleasure in telling me none of the suggestions would ever be good enough for the Premier League. They then cancelled the rest of the afternoon's meetings and I left for home never to be contacted by them again.

I can look back on it now with a wry smile but at the time I was quite upset as I'd taken a day off work, paid for an expensive train ticket and spent a lot of time preparing for the meeting only to be mocked. I think history is on my side though as all my suggestions went on to have much more successful careers than the player they signed1 😂

What's Next?

I released a new update to the penaltyblog python package last week, which adds in some new models and scrapers so keep an eye out on the blog for an article on those over the next few weeks.

After that, I've got a giant list of ideas to write about when I can find the time and data for them.

Here's to the next ten years of!


Because people are bound to ask, here's the players I recommended plus the teams they played for at the time:

  • Arkadiusz Milik (Ajax)
  • Michy Batshuayi (Marseille)
  • Wissam Ben Yedder (Toulouse)
  • Nabil Fekir (Lyon)

Milik moved to Napoli later that year and Batshuayi moved to Chelsea. Fekir almost moved to Liverpool in 2018 but the deal fell through due to injury and Ben Yedder has had a highly successful career with Monaco and France.

I have no regrets about my recommendations 😄


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