Analyze This!

Under-23s well prepared

As the Under-23s prepare for a busy week with tonight’s play off semi final against West Ham at Molineux (7pm), and Wednesday’s Birmingham Senior Cup final against Leamington, Tom Heslop caught up with their match analyst Mat Pearson.


From Blackburn, to Qatar, and now at Compton Park,  Mat Pearson has already built up a variety of experience in the role of Performance Analyst.


Pearson joined the club as Head of academy performance analysis in February following previous jobs with Rovers and the Aspire academy in Qatar and he revealed what it is like working in different environments and different cultures within the footballing world.


He says: “I started out at Blackburn Rovers Football Club working alongside their academy, so their under 16s and their under 18s, at a time when there weren’t a lot of staff around doing that sort of analysis work.


“From there I moved to Qatar and I worked for the Aspire academy which is the national academy. I was working with youth players aged between 12 and 18 on a full time basis, providing analysis support. In addition they had coaching sessions, schooling, and meals provided, everything was in-house over there. The academy was designed to feed the national team through the age groups.


“I worked with them on the analysis side of things working on the pre-match preparation, the in-game stats and then individual stats to see how players were developing.


“From there I went to work with the national teams where I did a year with the under 23s and a year with the senior team.


“That was a bit more competitive in the style of football as there was a lot more opposition analysis involved in it.


“Then, as of February this year I came to work with Wolves.”


Pearson admitted that his time in the Middle East was something that amazed him due to the amount of different techniques that were used by the different countries that were also working over there.


He continued: “The experience itself at Aspire was amazing because you are working with so many different people around the world.


“You get to pick up all different ideas from all different types of cultures of football from different parts of the world, and then they are all moulded together in one environment which was great to be a part of.


“It was a fantastic learning experience because I got to see how the Spanish did things, I got to see how they Germans did things, as well as how the Dutch did things.


“I was able to marry that to how we do things in England and I was able to adapt that to our own style over here.


“I think the biggest difference for me was the players just because of the culture and the language.


“We had to really focus on how we were going to communicate with the players because there were players who didn’t speak great English.”


Pearson now works alongside Scott Sellars and his staff with the under 23s and he explained just how things work behind the scenes on a daily basis.


“Like at a lot of clubs nowadays, analysis is a massive part of the process, depending on what they are looking for throughout the different age groups,” he explains.


“Primarily my job here at Wolves is working alongside Scott Sellars and the under 23s squad.


“I look at our games and the philosophy of the club and how we are matching up performances against philosophy.


“There are obviously certain things that we are trying to match up so we are looking at how we want to play as a club, and how we want players to perform at this club.


“We look at whether what we have discussed in the week is actually happening in the games and, if not, then why.


“We will show the players some of our feedback and then tell them this is what we want you to do and why. We try to do it as positive modelling where we will say this is what you have done well and this is what we want you to keep doing.


“Then we look at a little bit of pre-match preparation so we can see what the opposition are doing.


“We will look at how they are playing in their games and what sort of style they have, breaking down what they do well in games as well as what they might not do so well.


“Everything we do is allied to the club philosophy. 


“We don’t try and change how we are going to play based on who we are going to play because – whilst we will know the opposition’s strength and weaknesses - there is a philosophy through the age groups here that we don’t really want to change.


“We do that because if we have players coming up from the under 16s who then go into the under 18s and then they make the step up into the under 23s, not a lot of things will have changed in terms of our preparations so they will hopefully find that a bit more of a smoother transition through the ranks. 


“There is always a continuous feedback loop here at the club because we will always show the players what their next opponents are like, and then we work together with our preparations before the game to make sure we are in the best shape.


“Then they can go out and do what they can on the pitch with the best possible preparation to try and get the result that is needed.”


The Under-23s have certainly been picking up positive results so far this season.


And, with a place in the top division of the Premier League up for grabs, and the Birmingham Senior Cup Final against Leamington, there is still plenty to play for – and analyse – yet!