It’s wizard! Manchester City hires several astrophysicists to get ahead of rivals

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 It's wizard!  Manchester City hires several astrophysicists to get ahead of rivals


Laurie Shaw, former astrophysicist and Treasury policy adviser, was employed by Man City

Manchester City employed several rocket specialists as they sought to gain an edge over their rivals.

Former astrophysicist and Treasury policy adviser Laurie Shaw was hired by the club as a “senior artificial scientist” in January and Sportsmail understands City has taken at least three other similar appointments.

When asked by Sportsmail, City only confirmed that they had made ‘new hires’ in the data area, adding that all of the rookies had physical backgrounds and would work at all 10 clubs in City Football. Group (CFG).

The group is expanding its data analysis team at a time when marginal off-pitch gains are a high priority for Europe’s elite clubs.

Data usage has skyrocketed in recent years, with optical player tracking – a kind of 3D technology using multiple cameras – now commonplace.

This type of analysis records every action each player takes on the pitch and determines their scoring probability – or how that affects the team’s scoring chances.

But the most innovative clubs are looking for the next breakthrough.

Champions Liverpool have been credited with leading the field last season with a data wing featuring a chess champion and a coding astrophysicist.

City have made a number of 'new hires' in the data arena, they all have physics backgrounds

City have made a number of ‘new hires’ in the data arena, they all have physics backgrounds.

And City has restructured its data department following the departure of chief insights officer Lee Mooney during the 2019-20 campaign.

Industry sources believe CFG is experimenting with the technology in an effort to set itself apart from its rivals, pointing to a recent artificial intelligence competition held in conjunction with Google.

The competition, which ran until December, challenged technological whistles to develop artificial intelligence “agents” – in effect a player in a match situation – and program them to respond to changes. normal game situations.

Brian Prestidge, Group Director of Data Analytics and Business Intelligence, said: “A physics-based football environment is a place to learn through simulation… and to test tactical concepts so that they are strong enough for a coach to build his career on. “.

The phrase “testing tactical concepts” suggests that technology could be developed to simulate adversaries. Sources believe this could serve as a test of predictability in how matches will unfold, although imitating every opposing player would be a huge task.

City is, however, one of the best clubs in partnership with global software company Acronis, which stores countless hours of game footage and has offered to use it to improve algorithms.

“Whether it’s analyzing what’s going on in the field or working in one of our many offices around the world, data is critical to our success,” said Greg Swimer, CTO of CFG .

Pep Guardiola’s first-team coach Rodolfo Borrell gives instructions to City substitutes using software from another club partner, SAP. City would not disclose details of the device’s benefits when it was introduced three years ago, but the club’s website says “analysts are loading tactical plans and opposition information on the shelves.”

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