Sunderland AFC

Monitoring and Benchmarking Performance

Sports4Cast works with Sunderland AFC providing effective season and match MI to allow key stakeholders to evaluate impartially performance and make decisions based on a range of metrics. Sports4Cast also contributed towards their new head coach search in early 2022, resulting in the appointment of Alex Neil. Sunderland were promoted to the Championship at the end of that season.
Data Driven Decision-Making

Sports4Cast were approached by Sunderland AFC before the beginning of the 2021/22 season. At this stage Sunderland had spent 3 seasons in the third tier of English football, and were exploring options for improving their promotion chances. Sports4Cast developed an affordable solution that allowed Sunderland to gain a clear overview of their side’s current performance in relation to expectations and what prospects looked like for the remainder of the season – updated on a weekly basis – allowing management to realistically assess and plan for the future.

Season Planning

This allowed Sunderland to plan their season, understand their opponents, and track performance better than ever before. Measuring and benchmarking performance was key to evaluating how the season was going beyond the simple points that are seen in the league table. As a result, it was fully understood when performance was slipping and when to act to fix it.

New Head Coach

This was never more valuable than during the run of games in January 2022 that culminated in the need for a new head coach. Performance had fallen and the models showed making the playoffs to be be increasingly unlikely given the current season projections. A change was needed and Sunderland used the Coach Analysis tool to quickly vet over 10,000 candidates across Europe to create a shortlist and evaluate past performance through a statistical lens.

Reversing the Curve

The manager search ended with Alex Neil. The data showed he was proven to statistically improve teams that had been on a downward trend. Further, he had one of the best playoff records on the shortlist, which the data suggested would be of particular importance given the team’s likely finishing position in the league. This decision was vindicated as the season ended with Sunderland on a 16 match unbeaten run, winning the playoffs and securing promotion back into the Championship.

View Demo Dashboard

Sports4Cast quietly and diligently provided a hugely valuable service to the club throughout the season. This came to a climax in January, when we were looking for a new head coach. Sports4Cast’s platform allowed us to run analysis over more than 10,000 coaches cutting through the hype and human bias to impartially evaluate each head coaches performance. Obviously, we are delighted with the results!
- James Young, SAFC’s Head of Data & Analysis

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