A few changes to start the year as a football scout

January has been a month of changes. The main one is that I’ve taken on two new roles as a football scout. One of which is now and then. The other weekly. 

That makes me busy, which is how I like it. The best part is the constant flow of work which makes working on opposition reports a matter of routine. Without long gaps between. I find this the best way to practice. Regular reports for a team that actually needs them. 

The first role is with a League 2 club. Oppositions match reports when their opponents happen to be playing in the southeast. 

For some reason, this feels to me like the purest form of opposition scouting. Probably because of how I was taught. It’s about what’s taking place right in front of you. In real-time. Without the aid of a pause button. And then how you go about interpreting it in a way that’s useful to analysts.  

There’s also something about watching a game, taking tons of notes, ruminating on those notes as you drive home, then getting to work immediately. All with the aim of getting the report to the club first thing Monday morning. 

The other role does have a pause button. Creating opposition reports in video for a National League South club. 

That means short clips of how a team might play. Their strengths and weaknesses. Plus any details on key players. 

This is partly a return to how I used to work — recording games myself and then analysing in detail — and partly something completely new. 

Unlike live reporting, which is an intense burst of work over a short period, these reports take longer. There’s always something to be looking up or investigating up until the minute you have to send them.

It’s a process that has revealed some gaps in my knowledge, that’s for sure. At least compared to others in similar roles at (much) bigger clubs. Which when scouring the internet for examples is all you can compare to. 

I suppose what I mean is that the routes forward to progress as a video analyst really are more complex than the live report writing I’m used to. 

The amount of details you can see at a live game needs to be considerable. But it’s nothing like what you’re looking for in video. It’s the difference between scratching away at the ground with a shovel and doing the same with a great big JCB digger. 

And when you compare yourself to others, you can easily feel like you’re digging with a spoon. 

I am older than a lot of people getting into this business. So perhaps I’m lucky in the sense that I don’t really plan on a career as a data analyst, for instance. And a lot of the analyst roles you see at a senior level include performance analysis, which is something I have only limited experience with. 

But in terms of general improvement, which is my real priority, it’s a big deal. There are courses out there that might help streamline my inefficiencies, but it’s hard to find the time when it’s another two-game week. 

In any case, most of my learning has been on the job. The learning curve is steep but almost guaranteed. So I’ll keep filling in those knowledge gaps as best as I can. With a spoon if necessary.