Manchester United have poached Southampton’s lead data scientist Alex Kleyn in a bid to improve Dominic Jordan’s blossoming department.
Jordan, who was appointed the clubs’ Director of Data Science in October 2021 has been leading a recruitment drive as he looks to improve the Red Devils’ use of analytics.
It is an area in which United have lagged behind a number of their rivals in recent years, which has prompted the focus on the sector.
Kleyn is highly respected in his field, having held his position at Southampton since 2019.
He was appointed at a data scientist in 2017 but earned his promotion in part due to his work in helping to bring Southampton’s B team into line with the tactical vision of their first team squad under Ralph Hassenhuttl.
As quoted by Training Ground Guru, Kleyn explained how he could use various metrics to help the two teams align tactically.
Using traditional event data, XY data and tracking data, each of which was “useful for different reasons” and had “a varying level of complexity,” Southampton’s analytics department was, “from a data point of view, able to very quickly apply our first team data model to our B team.
“This was really powerful,” Kleyn added. “Because it provided use with a ready-made tool to check that transition tactically.
“It allows us to use internal comparisons, so we can compare the first team with key metrics to the B team and interpret the differences.”
Given Erik ten Hag’s preference for high-pressing football and intensity, it is easy to see how such a model could prove to be a benefit to Manchester United.
Kleyn may well be tasked with helping to bring the Under 21s into line with the senior team stylistically.
He may even be utilised in aiding Ten Hag realise his vision for United’s senior team, potentially by comparing data against that of the manager’s side at Ajax, or that of other successful teams.
Whatever Kleyn’s remit ends up being, it is clear that the club have recruited a well-regarded staff member who is sure to benefit United.