I get asked the same questions quite a lot, so I thought I’d stick answers to the most common ones here:
Where do you get your data from?
Except where stated, I only use publicly-available data that can be found online. The data I use is collected by Opta and forms part of the BBC and Sporting Life generated commentary feeds. If you’re looking for some simple data then the best place to start is probably http://www.football-data.co.uk where you can find a load of CSV files that include match-by-match shot counts for a range of divisions. Getting hold of more granular information (such as shot locations or lineups) requires techniques such as scraping to obtain.
What software do you use?
For the most part it’s nothing more esoteric than Microsoft Excel, although I’ve written Visual Basic macros to automate a lot of the more complex number crunching and visualisations.
Why don’t you focus on the top divisions?
The Premier League and other leading European competitions have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to match data (as well as actual money) and there are a myriad of bloggers clamouring to write about them. As a fan of a[n increasingly] lower league club, I think the balance has tipped too far towards the top end of the food chain, so this blog is aimed at catering for the smaller clubs who aren’t usually deemed worthy of mainstream coverage.
There’s a quote I really like from The Secret Footballer blog, which goes something like this:
However when I build something that works for the lower leagues, I’ll often adapt it for as many other leagues as I can get my hands on the data for, as it’s often interesting to compare stats as widely as possible.
Can I adapt / reproduce your material?
Yes, as long as:
- I’m credited;
- there’s a link back to the source material here;
- you aren’t misrepresenting me;
- you aren’t making money out of it;
then it shouldn’t be a problem, although I’d appreciate being told about it first. The reason for this is twofold: not only does it avoid surprises, but I may be able to furnish you with something more bespoke and cross-promote what you’ve done.
Put simply, I’m all in favour of people citing my work as part of a post about a team’s performance etc – that’s exactly the sort of discussion this blog is intended to foster for lower league football.
Can you write a guest article / appear on a podcast etc?
I’ll try to contribute if I can, but I don’t have a massive amount of free time so please don’t be offended if I decline.
How do I get in touch with you?
What’s the blog’s name all about?
The original incarnation of this blog focused exclusively on the three Football League divisions, which I’d analyse around other commitments during the six non-footballing days of the week and then see how much I got right on the seventh. The strapline therefore became: “3 divisions covered, 6 days of analysing them and 1 day of being proven utterly wrong”.
My choice of the 3-6-1 formation dates back to playing games like Football Manager, Sensible Soccer etc in the 1990s and feeling compelled to adopt one of the more unusual formations on offer rather than sticking to a more “tried and tested” approach. It didn’t always work, but it felt like more of a legitimate and personal challenge than using a proven template and the successes I did enjoy were all the sweeter for having taken a more individual path.
I apply the same philosophy to my blogging and tweeting: my aim is to create a style of output that covers the things I genuinely care about in a way that I think works best, rather than reactively following what others have already done.