News of Graham Taylor’s death and the sharing of his football story have revisited his coaching methods and tactical acumen.
Greg Johnson’s account of Graham’s pragmatism includes this observation:
At Watford, he employed Charles Hughes as a consultant who, along with Charles Reep – a former Wing Commander in the RAF – was one of the first to try and devise a formal, data-driven approach to analysing football. The conclusions they reached were flawed – since most of the goals scored in the matches they studied appeared to be preceded by three or fewer passes, they believed that they had stumbled upon an essential truth that could be exploited through long ball tactics.
Someone who knows a great deal about Graham’s game understanding is Neil Lanham.
In personal correspondence, Neil points out that at Watford:
It was Charles Hughes who was curious about what Taylor was doing at Watford and the mechanics behind it … Under Charles Reep’s guidance, my colleague Simon Hartley was Taylor’s then analyst …
When Graham was England Manager:
Neil worked as an analyst with Dave Bassett at Wimbledon too (The Crazy Gang, 2015:186).
Ultimately, Neil’s database of match analysis comprises of 5,000 games.
I have compiled some information about Neil’s work in this Google Doc.
I am hopeful that Neil’s perspective assists our understanding of what was happening at a formative time in the use of permanent records of football performance. Dave Bassett and Wally Downes (2015) give a feel for Neil’s work in a supportive environment: