Post-match analysis & technology – Match of the Day turns 50

By Shelley Broomfield and Andrew Callaway, Lecturers in Performance Analysis

22nd August marks the 50th anniversary of the first broadcast of Match of the Day, a show that brings top class football to the masses. Over the last 50 years the show has changed a lot, but one way in which it continues to evolve is through the way it analyses performance.

Research has shown that Physical Education students can recall around 42% of sporting actions in a football match, and experienced coaches can recall around 60% of a football match (Franks and Miller 1986; Laird and Waters 2008). This shows that even experienced coaches are not recalling 40% of what happens in a match, often focusing on key events such as penalties or fouls, and their recall can even be incorrect in cases where decisions go against their team. For regular Match of the Day fans this may not come as much of a surprise, as coaches of teams disagree on the malice in a tackle or the validity of a penalty.

These studies amongst many others into the need for enhancing coach recall demonstrate the value of objective observations to allow for critical, meaningful, feedback to the coach and ultimately the players. These objective observations have been used in team and racket sports for many decades but more recently have come to be known as Performance Analysis – and have migrated to other sports too.
Performance analysis is the investigation of sporting performance, with the aim being to develop an understanding of sports that can inform decision-making, enhance performance and inform the coaching process, through the means of objective data collection and feedback.
Within football, we have seen this used to great effect to improve the tactics employed by teams. An example where this can be clearly seen is through penalty kicks. In this instance a goal keeper can be shown a picture of a goal mouth with markings showing where the player most often kicks the ball. The goal keeper can use this information to help the decision making process as to which direction he is going to dive. As can be seen in Figure 1, the player kicks most often to their bottom right, so if in doubt, this is the direction the goal keeper will dive.

Goal keeping analysis

Figure 1.

Recent news reports have shown that Premier League managers are taking these methods seriously. New Manchester United manager Louis Van Gaal has even had cameras installed at the clubs training ground to analyse and catalogue performance during training sessions.

Performance analysis is frequently seen during Match of the Day post-match discussion. We watch Gary Lineker in conversation with several experts, often past professional footballers and or managers, deciding whether the game was good or bad. This is a format that Match of the Day has used over a number of years. Even as recently as the 90’s this discussion was supported by video evidence from the game. However, this was limited to slow-motion video replay from minimal video angle choices. This meant the discussions around topics such as, “was a player off side?”, were often met with a lack of evidence from the video available and therefore the answer often remained inconclusive.

Move on two decades and technology has developed beyond the imagination of Match of the Day commentators from the 90’s and earlier. Match statistics are now rolling across the screen with regularity allowing spectators to clearly see the strengths and weaknesses of the teams playing. With multiple camera angles, no area of the pitch is out of the viewers or commentators reach. These camera angles are used to great effect in the post-match discussions where questions such as, “was a player off side?”, are now easily answerable with on-video graphics such as lines, circles and highlights to evidence the argument, as can be seen in the clip below.

This use of technology on easily accessible television programmes such as Match of the Day makes the average spectator an arm-chair performance analyst. Using this information, the average Joe working a 9-5 desk job can also be a Premiership football team manager in their own fantasy football league. Assuming Match of the Day keeps up with the technological advances available they will be securing their place in the hearts and homes of football spectators for another 50 years.

Golf leader and sports coach receive BU Honorary Doctorates

A prominent international leader in golf and the sports coach credited with helping the England team win the Rugby World Cup have received Honorary Doctorates from Bournemouth University.

Prominent leader in golf and leisure management, writer and consultant Eddie Bullock and sports performance coach David Alred received their awards at the graduation ceremony for the School of Tourism.

Eddie, who received a Doctor of Business Administration from BU, has worked closely with the university – helping to support and mentor students.

“It was a huge surprise to me when I first was notified, so I’m very honoured and very privileged,” he said.

“To be honoured by Bournemouth University is exceptionally special to me. We’ve got a great group of students here on the golf programme and I’m involved heavily with mentoring and guiding them through.

“I’m a great advocate for more education within golf management and Bournemouth University is certainly at the fore to develop that and to be able to guide them through that from the academic side to the practical side.”

His advice to graduating students was to keep pushing themselves and remain passionate about what they do.

“My words of wisdom are really just to be passionate about what you do, to have fun, be innovative, be creative.

“Nothing gets any better than hard work and making sure you get out there and do your very, very best. Whatever you do today, always improve by 1 per cent tomorrow.”

Also receiving an Honorary Doctorate during the School of Tourism graduation ceremony was sports psychologist and performance coach David Alred MBE.

David, who received an honorary Doctor of Education award, is one of the world’s most renowned kicking coaches, credited with training Jonny Wilkinson and the England rugby team to victory in the 2003 world cup.

David was awarded an MBE for services to rugby in 2004 and said that he was pleased to be receiving his BU Honorary Doctorate alongside the graduating students.

“It was really good but also, almost more importantly, to be part of that cohort of students, that have got over that first threshold of their degree.

“I’m just hoping that they see that as the beginning of something new, rather than the end of something, and if I’ve got that across maybe to a small percentage, then it’s been a massively worthwhile day.

He added that he wanted the graduates to remain passionate about learning.

“You never stop learning – and if somebody asks you to do something that you’ve never done before, that’s the reason for doing it,” he said.

“That’s something that goes into your bank of expertise that no course, no academic qualification can ever give you and that adds to the richness of how you can perform and you’ll get better.”

More than 5,000 graduates from across Bournemouth University were handed their degree certificates in six different ceremonies at the Bournemouth International Centre.

Professor John Vinney, vice-chancellor of Bournemouth University, said: “Bournemouth University takes great pride in our Honorary Graduates.

“We recognise people who have excelled in their chosen field who will act as inspirational role models, both for our graduates and their families at the awards ceremonies and for our whole student body in the coming years.”