Today’s guest is Tom Worville, a rising star at the intersection of football, media and data analytics, as well as the football analytics writer for The Athletic. Tom began his career as a blogger, founding Analytics FC, before moving to “the finishing school” for data analysts at Opta/Stats Perform. But unlike many of his former colleagues (Devin Pleuler, Sam Gregory) Tom did not join club football and instead works for the pioneering football media outlet that is The Athletic.

Our conversation began about his journey and continued into a discussion on what constitutes data journalism. Aside from the pitfalls and challenges of creating mainstream football analytics content, Tom discusses his inspirations, provides advice for people starting out in the space before talking about his “Ten Commandments of Football Analytics” - a primer on how not to use stats and/or how to improve the discourse on football and analytics. We also discuss the approaches of media companies “doing analytics” vs professionals and how those two can converge. Tom also walks us through his excellent piece on crossing, examines its origins and gives examples of its practical applications in training.

Finally, we touch upon data suppliers and the move toward tracking data, once thought of as the Holy Grail of Analytics and whether that is still the case. We conclude by talking about the new developments - ball progression and value models - in football analytics.

We hope you enjoy this conversation with “a translator able to convert the number-dense and sometimes opaque world of football analytics into features, analysis and stories for all to understand and enjoy“ as much as we did!

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