There’s a story, in his first autobiography I think, how Sir Alex Ferguson sold Jaap Stam in part because his tackling stats were declining. Then someone pointed out that Paulo Maldini’s tackling stats were non-existent. The lesson learned here is that using tackling numbers to evaluate defenders doesn’t really tell you much. It feels like it should, but the best defenders rarely have to tackle. Defending is about so much more.
Then remember when Liverpool were taken over by the owners of the Boston Red Sox. They had a director of football who had read Moneyball and proceeded to buy Andy Carroll (£35m), the most dominant aerial presence in the Premier League, but also Jordan Henderson (£16m), Charlie Adam (£7m) and Stewart Downing (£20m), who between them had created 239 chances the season before, a dominant number that suggested Liverpool would probably go bananas the next season. They didn’t, and the signings were widely regarded as a letdown. Sure, Henderson has come good, but was actually made available to Fulham soon after signing.
Fulham have signed one of these players, been strongly linked with another, and are rumoured to have ‘done dealed’ a third.
Is this what Fulham mean by taking an analytical approach to recruitment? I’m not saying it’s a bad thing, just observing.