Working in the Belgium Pro League with Marc Delcourt

We at Performance Analysis UK first met Marc Delcourt when he signed up for one of our webinars and we have stayed in touch ever since. Marc is currently enjoying his fifth season as Video and Performance Analyst at the Belgium Pro League club, KV Kortrijk and has kindly taken the time out to tell me all about his role in Belgium's highest league, including the influence of Roberto Martinez.

Like many analysts, Marc did not go straight to the top, having to work in lower leagues and understand the role first "I started in South of France in an Amateur Club (4th Division) at this time I was autodidact, I learned a lot by myself or by research and exchange with another Performance & Video analyst". This gave him a great base knowledge and prepared him for what was to come "For personal reason I came in the North of France close of the French and Belgium border. I saw in Internet that the KV Kortrijk Academy looking somebody to record and analyse games within the academy. I started in this club like this from ground zero with just one or two cameras and a little metallic structure to record from a higher position."

With KV Kortrijk having ambitions of growing, this seemed like perfect timing for Marc "From this starting point the academy have the ambitious and the will to develop the use of video analysis to help the player development. So step by step we invested in some features to record the game with a better quality and higher position. From this, the First team needed somebody to be more efficient and professional in the video analysis, so I came by starting to just analyse our own team live and postgame, so I already had time to continue with the academy. But after that I had more tasks to do for the first team and now I’am full time with this".

Most of you reading this interview will be a big follower of the English Premier League, so we asked Marc how he believe this differs from the Belgium Pro League.. "Very good question, I want to answer first that it is the club budget for sure that it has an influence on the players quality and standing" explained the French Analyst, "But something is going to change because we see some big Belgian players who played in big championships, like the Premier league for example come back in the Belgium Pro League. Players such as Vincent Kompany, Simon Mignolet and Nacer Chadli. Step by step it is more attractive". Marc continued to look at the tactical and technical side of the game and said "In the football point of view the spirit is for me close of the English football, it’s a mix between dare to play football from back with ball possession in different systems such as 3-5-2 / 3-4-3 / 4-4-2 / 4-3-3 for example and the fighting spirit with some big atmsoshpere stadium like Standard De Liege, Club Brugge and Anderlecht".

As we want to educate the current and future analysts, it is always interesting to hear about the typical working week of an analyst. Marc describes his as "First is watching tagging analysing the next opponent games for a collective and individual point of view, through last four games and some research in specific sequences like goals scored conceded and set pieces which is done using Instat". It is vital to not only go through the motions and collect information, but to also provide a way of communicating this.."When all the clips of the collective presentation is selected I create some draws via Metrica Play from the Metrica Sports Company. In complement of that I prepare some individual presentation of the direct opponent that I send by HUDL to my players. All the Presentation are ready to give to the players the day before the game".

Further explaining his role Marc discusses with us about the information given to coaches "I prepare game day theory the day before the game, I start by recording the last training session, the tactical and set pieces part of them. I select some sentences to include in the coach presentation. I draw the offensive set pieces combinations". When it comes to game day, much is discussed about the timing of information given to players, at KV Kortrijk Marc has the presentation ready and information is given two hours before the game. "During the game, I am in the stand to do live coding and ready to show some clips during the half time. After the game I give the whole match footage to my coach who likes to review the games, and we work together to prepare the debriefing of the game. I send some individual clips to players for their individual feedback. I collect some data from InStat and create some personal by Sportcode to review the game".

Now, we know performance analysis is used all around the world but the big question and debate is often around the use of data and video to collect information and to portray the messages. We asked Marc how this is in Belgium football... "When I started 5 years ago nobody knows Sportcode and we are maybe two analyst in the league to use it and do live coding. But the belief on it and it's influence to improve team and players performance was here. More and more teams started to hire analysts after that and now I think just a couple of club don’t have a person dedicated to do all the analysis works." It was interesting to hear what the National FA are doing to encourage analysis within the countries highest league "From this season we made a big step by the support of the National coach Roberto Martinez and his analyst Luke Benstead, because now all games are record in 3 angles, one tactical angle with automated camera from Hudl and two behind the goals. All clubs can benefit and make use of Hudl Sportcode and Hudl platform".

Coming from the French Fourth Division, it is important for every analyst, and person in any field of work, to have goals. Marc looks at his as "to develop my job and the use of video and data by joining or creating an analysis department with some special missions for each analyst and create a data based on our team and players and about all opponent also. I want to improve my use of data in my day work to explain team or individual profile of the opponent and our team".

He went on to say "I am more video at the moment but my desire is to develop my data use and creating a database about opponents (Teams & Players) and about our team. To gets data you have some options you code our to create your own data but it’s very time-consuming and in football analysis you have to do subjective analysis to be more details in the tactical way of your team". He goes on to explain the difficulties with growing the data side of things in the Pro League club's analysis "Data from quality producers is too expensive for my club budget. So I do something in between with the solution to collect some data and try to have an idea about the performances trend of my team and about opponents".

So with data becoming such a huge part of modern football, it interesting to hear that Marc collects "all the collective and individual data of each games of the leagues by extracting data from InStat, our video platform producer at this time, to create a database that I can use to compare players or team performance or to confirm the individual or collective profile". He went on to mention other pieces of software " I use SportsCode and a special quantitative postgame code window to collect collective data about our games. SportCode is the most important piece of software that I use, you can do a lot of thing about video of course and you can create your own data and report".

Looking ahead to the future of analysis, Marc believe "The next step of the analysis is the use of Artificial Intelligent and Augmented Reality to create and collect data that we can set by our own vision and the way of play of the coach or club philosophy. With this you can be more efficient and more details in the practical part of coaching to prepare game sor to help of the young players development. I think for small club it’s a more realistic investment comparing of the good and talent players values that some club can’t pay to improve their teams and to be competitive".

Finally, we asked our continual question to any analyst that we speak to- What advice would you give someone that wants a job in the industry?

"Be patient, be curious, try a lot of things, try to create our tools to help our coaching staff in their need. Be flexible, available, passionate about your job, try to introduce the coach vision and understanding with goods clips, be their works more easy by be efficient. Be creative to magnifizer their presentation and speech. And for sure believe in yourself and be confidente. Like to learn from coachs vision, and show it in your daily videos. Be pro-active propose solutions or inovations".

We at Performance Analysis UK would like to say a huge thank you to Marc for taking the time out and speak to us. If you would like to follow or connect with Marc, that can be done on his Twitter and LinkedIn.

If you are interested in becoming an analyst or know more about what the life of an analyst involves, take a look at our Introduction to Analysis Course here!

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