With the league game against Bury looming, Shrewsbury’s new Performance Analyst, Michael Vernon, originally from Bury, talks about how he is settling in with The Shrews.
Having previously been at Burnley during their stay in the Championship, Michael was brought in by Mickey Mellon during the summer as part of the strengthening of his backroom staff for the new season.
He said: “I’m enjoying the challenge here. I came in during the summer and have met loads of new people.”
“There are some great people at the club to work with, and I’ve looked to set up a new department at the club so there have been a few challenges along the way trying to get the right equipment in but we’re all there now and I think it’s going well. I think they will learn a lot from it.”
Michael also added: “It’s an excellent time to join. Last year, I didn’t know what the situation was but since I’ve been here the staff have been excellent, they’re all willing to learn from me and I’m learning off them.”
“The players are very responsive to what I do, obviously new players have probably had similar staff to me before, so they know what I’ll be about but they’re very willing and take a lot on board. With the results so far, it seems to be working.”
Since Michael’s move to Shrewsbury, Micky Mellon’s men have reached 8th in the Sky Bet League Two recording five wins and three draws in their 12 games so far this season.
“The team have bonded excellently, the gaffer’s done a great job and he knows what he wants from the game.”
“He wanted someone like me to come in, I came down and had a chat with him in the summer and straight away I knew it was a chance for me to come in and see what I can build up at the club.”
Michael believes that some of the season’s success has been down to him and his analysis, he said: “I tell the gaffer and Jacko when it’s down to me, I don’t know whether they believe me, but it’s a team and I have an input. The gaffer, Jacko and Coyney have a huge input on the training ground too.”
Michael’s expertise has also helped The Shrews to an impressive 1-0 victory over Premier League new boys Leicester City in the Capital One Cup in August, resulting in a mouth-watering home tie with Chelsea at the end of the month.
Michael said: “We’ve played loads of systems already this season and there may be more to come, I don’t know, but it shows the adaptability of the players. It shows that this league doesn’t have to be 4-4-2, we can adapt, we can go a different way, and we can use things to counter oppositions.”
“I think it’s great that we’ve got that adaptability in the squad with the players and that sort of comes down to the recruitment side of it.”
On his move from Championship side (now Premier League) Burnley to League Two Shrewsbury Town, Michael said: “I haven’t been in League Two before and it is a different style of football than what I watch at home and what I have religiously studied.”
“But, if we stick to our principles, we know the right way to play. Can we put passes together and play with the ball. For me, everything you do starts with the ball and ends with the ball and it’s important you stick to that and so far we have.”
Fans may be thinking, ‘what does a performance analyst actually do?’ Michael explains: “It’s such an open question, but the main thing is trying to give performance insights.”
“The lads are playing football every day and they know football is their life, but what little bits of detail can we give them to improve? What things may they not know that we can provide? Can I give them information on their own performance? Can I give them information on the opposition?”
“It’s sort of feedback on performance and a lot of preparation going into games and it’s up to me to get all that information, get the stats, the videos put that together and make it accessible for the players.”
“We sat down at the start of the season and said we’ll look at X,Y and Z so we know what we’re looking at. We get stats based on that, we make that accessible and the gaffer will sit down and study that and ask, ‘how can we manipulate things to change those stats in our favour?’”
There’s a lot of work that goes into the work of a performance analyst. Michael said: “There’s a good workload. I’m in at half 7 every morning and there’s a lot to do, you need to prepare and if you don’t prepare then it’s not going to work.”
“We’ve killed quite a few trees to be honest with the amount of paper we’ve used, but a lot of information we have is statistical.”
“Anyone can sit and watch a football match, loads of people do because it’s good fun, but like I said we’re trying to work out what opposition teams are doing, so how can we counter that?”
“We’re looking at the footage, so it’s not just watching football it’s about understanding the game, understanding what people are trying to do, what purpose they’re trying to have, what purpose we’re trying to have and then it all comes together.”
“Before a game we’ll have a presentation that me and Jacko will deliver, only about 15 minutes, but it will give the players the information we think is necessary going in to the game on the opposition.”
Michael is also a huge fan of former Barcelona and current Bayern Munich manager, Pep Guardiola. He said: “He’s an idol isn’t he? He’s a man that in football I look to, I watch all of his games listen to his press conferences, when I can understand them.”
“The way he is, the way he talks about football is what I believe in myself, the possession and the style. I was lucky enough to meet him before out in Germany.”