Technical Direction

The Daily Mirror reports that “Manchester United are stepping up their search for a new technical director” (link). The search for United’s first ever Technical Director has gone on for over a year. It involves bringing in a former player “who understands the culture of the club”.

The role was originally described as a Director of Football charged with long-term planning of recruitment. There is a suggestion that the role is now one in which the Director would form part of a recruitment team, alongside the manager, and others (link).

The Daily Mirror notes “the new Technical Director would fit in within that structure rather than take it over because there is a strong feeling at Old Trafford they had a good summer which pushed the club in the right direction” (link).

Andrew Cave (2019) notes that a number of other teams have appointed Directors.

  • Manchester City: Txiki Begiristain (link).
  • Liverpool: Michael Edwards (link).
  • Chelsea: Petr Cech (link).
  • Arsenal: Edu (link).
  • Paris Saint-Germain: Leonardo (link).
  • Barcelona: Eric Abidal (link)
  • Bayern Munich: Hasan Salihamidzic (link).
  • Juventus: Fabio Paratici (link).
  • RB Leipzig: Paul Mitchell (link).
  • Ajax: Marc Overmars (link).

Andrew notes that “Winning eras are characterised by healthy funding, shrewd signings, solid coaching, strong, characterful management and an X factor that brings to life all that dull talk about talent management and the ability to motivate and steer a team”.

It will be interesting to see how each of these Directors bring their vision to these winning eras. A key issuse for me is how successful players transition into the roles that are being created and are able to guide the transformation that all of them seek.

There is a Football Association Level 5 qualification. The course has six modules with in-club support provided by an FA tutor. There are twenty-five contact days in total as a group, with workshops based at St. George’s Park and visits to high performing organisations and visits hosted by clubs. There is a three-day study to Europe. 

The learning outcomes for the course are: 

  • Self-awareness and its impact on leadership
  • Leadership philosophy and application
  • Understanding of high-performing teams
  • Knowledge and awareness of world-leading insights into first team performance recruitment, academy, and science and medicine departments
  • Appreciation of club infrastructure and alignment of resources to deliver sustainable success
  • Understanding and application of the rules, regulations and governance
  • Long-term people development skills and succession planning

There is a prospectus available for the course (link).

Photo Credits

Red Seat at Old Trafford (Gordon Ednie, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Txiki Begiristain (BBC)

Prospectus (FA)

Scoring first and not losing in association football

A bar chart of probabilities of scoring first and not losing in six European football leagues

After this week’s games in six European football leagues, it is interesting to see how each league is tracking against a prior probability of scoring first and not losing.

I established the priors from results in the 2017-2018 season. Two of the six leagues (Bundesliga and Eredivisie) are different to their priors in comparison to four other leagues (EPL, Ligue 1, Serie A and Primera).

Six Weeks?

Last year, Ben Cronin wrote about the importance of the first six games of a football league season (link) in the context of positions at the end of the season.

Ben’s analysis of the English Premier League noted:

The winner of Premier League has been outside the top four after six games on only thee occasions since the 38 game season was introduced in 1995/96 – (Manchester United moved from 10th to 1st in 2002/03, Manchester City won the league despite being 7th after six games in 2013/14 and Chelsea moved from 8th to 1st in 2016/17).

I followed up on Ben’s work with a look at six European leagues for the 2018-2019 seasons. Teams’ points per game averages after six games (PPG6) were:

After the latest rounds in all of the leagues, the average points per game (PPGn) are:

I looked at teams’ current performance relative to their week 6 positions (Change6n):


In the 2017-2018 seasons in the six European leagues, four were won by the team leading their respective tables at week 6. The two exceptions were: in the Bundesliga, Bayern were third in week 6, the leaders then, Dortmund, finished 4th (29 points behind Bayern); in Serie A, Juventus were second on goal difference to Napoli, by the end of the season Napoli had moved to 2nd and were 4 points adrift of Juventus.