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Newcastle United explain how they are doing ‘Due diligence’ on new signings

2 months ago
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An interesting article has revealed how Newcastle United go about their recruitment process when signing players.

Apparently ‘Due Diligence’ plays a key part.

Who would have thought it?

The insight into Newcastle’s recruitment master plan, comes in a general piece from The Athletic on the use of data and analytics in helping to identify the best signings to make.

Newcastle United subscribe to ‘Real Analytics’, an online resource which uses research from professors in mathematics, statistics, computer science and economics.

The theory then is: ‘With the help of artificial intelligence and proprietary algorithms, which calculate how much value a player is adding in terms of victories, each individual in this huge database is given a dynamic rating based on their performance, physical and tracking data; potential; and how often they miss a game through injury or suspension.’

The Athletic talked to Newcastle United recruitment analyst Chris Scott, who used to work in the NUFC ticket office before changing jobs:

“Data analysis should be the beginning and the end of the process.

“So, we might ask it to find a left-back who can do x, y and z, which will be based on how we play and what we want our left-backs to do. That’s a more useful search than just looking for the top 30 left-backs aged under 30 in France. We want to know who the top five are who can do this, this and this.

“And then, at the end of the process, when you have done the old-fashioned scouting, you look to see what impact they’ll have — it’s almost like doing a virtual transfer, where you can see if the player will actually improve the team or not and by how much. It’s due diligence.”

No doubt at well run clubs the use of data and analytics has helped give them a decent advantage over others and led to fewer duff signings and more players recruited who prove more valuable than their price tag.

Then you have Newcastle United.

In the end, after all the data and analysis and scouting and whatever, it ends up with somebody then making the end decision.

So exactly two years ago today, Mike Ashley made the decision for Newcastle United to pay £40m (Ashley says it was £43m) for Joelinton. The Brazilian going on to score six goals in 69 Premier League appearances so far.

Steve Bruce forced to admit this season that Joelinton isn’t a natural goalscorer and is a striker who isn’t even very keen on getting in the box. You would have thought this might have been picked up during the ‘due diligence’…how did the expert analysis not pick up the fact that the Brazilian had never been a regular goalscorer – Ashley deciding NUFC would pay £40m / £43m for a striker whose best ever league season had been eight goals in the very weak Austrian league?

Searching for a left-back is mentioned in the piece, obviously I hope he comes good but as it looks at the moment, for me £15m has been wasted on Jamal Lewis. Rarely impressing last season, Lewis was eventually totally sidelined by Steve Bruce in favour of the likes of Paul Dummett and Matt Ritchie, the former Norwich player not starting a single Premier League game in the final three months of last season and indeed only six minutes as a sub in that entire period.

You can have all the data and analytics in the world but when you have the likes of Mike Ashley and Steve Bruce making the decisions, you are always fighting a losing battle.

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