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Eric Laurie- Molde FK

Eric Laurie is currently working at one of the biggest clubs in Norway, Molde FK in the Norwegian Eliteserien, as Head of Academy Performance Analysis and a coach on the U16 staff. As well as supporting the first team analyst with anything he may need help with. We were fortunate enough to have a really interesting interview with Eric.

PA UK: Tell us about your background and what has led you to this point....

EL: I am originally from the United States. After finishing High School, I realized fairly quickly that I was not going to make it far as a player, and that I wanted to figure out a way to still be a part of the game, I had developed a good relationship with a coach I had been connected with and he gave me a great opportunity to work as a coach/keeper coach and scout for a small University team while I while I was taking my Bachelors degree. At this point I was already sure I wanted to work in football and started to take some of my coaching licenses. I was also doing some volunteer coaching for a local club at the same time, just to try and gain as much experience as possible. I ended up moving to Norway in 2012 due to family circumstances and struggled to find any roles within football. I figured if I was going go get any chance in football in a new country I would have to try something new, and decided on taking a MSc in Football Management. It was here I was able to connect with Molde FK and I started doing some part-time coaching within the academy setup, stuff like football schools, pre-academy training sessions and quite a bit of goalkeeper training. At this point I was still looking for as much experience as possible and combined this role with managing a local senior side for a season where we ended up achieving promotion from the 6th tier. I ended up leaving the senior side after the season once I began full-time in Molde. I have since had quite a few different roles in my 6 years at the club, including Lead U14 Coach, Head of pre-academy, head of football schools, U16 assistant coach and keeper trainer for the women´s team.

PA UK: How did working in your current role come about?

EL: As in most roles in football I think it is extremely important to try and gain as much experience as possible and learn from other coaches and analysts. I was very interested in the analysis side of the game and spent as much time as I could with the first team analysts when I began in Molde. This was my own initiative, driven from curiosity, and I helped out with things like filming matches, doing some individual tagging and whatever support they may have needed. When the academy decided to begin with a more professional analysis department I suppose I was the most natural fit for the role within the club, as I had spent so much time already learning and gaining experience from the first team analysts.

PA UK: Best moment in analysis?

EL:That is a good, but tough question. Analysis in football can cover a very broad range of things, whether you are working on opposition analysis, analyzing training sessions, best practice videos or post-match analysis, you would like to think your work is having a positive effect on developing players or helping to win matches.

PA UK: What’s the ultimate goal for you and why?

EL: Ultimately I don´t have a specific target or goal that I am working towards. As I said, I have had a lot of different roles in football so far, so I am perhaps still not completely certain which type of role suits me best or what I will end up specializing in. I hope to continue to gain experience and learn from the different coaches and analysts I have had a chance to work with. For now my ultimate goal is simply to have a lifelong career working in football.

PA UK: Are you more data or video heavy in your work and why are you more heavy on that area?

EL: I am definitely more video heavy in my work, there is no question about that. I think the main reason I utilize video more is down to my coaching background and passion for tactical analysis. This, combined with the tools at my disposal makes video a much more viable option for me than data analytics. If I am being completely honest there is also a lot for me to learn regarding the data side of analytics, which is something I have been working on more as of late. I would like to be able to achieve a greater balance between the two however, as I think the data side is rapidly growing and there is a lot to take from there too. There are quite a lot of interesting twitter accounts and websites out there where you can always find new information on data analytics.

PA UK: Do you think clubs in Norway utilise analytics to its potential?

EL: I don´t want to speak too much on how I think other clubs are utilizing analytics in Norway, as I don´t know enough on what they are, or are not doing. But in Molde I think we are working every day to get the most out of analysis that we can. I have been very lucky to have a chance to learn from a few different analysts within the first team setup, and they are always trying to implement the latest trends in analysis. Sometimes new ideas work out great, and sometimes you may try something new and realize it is not particularly useful for what you are trying to achieve. Working in the academy I am expected to support and deliver analysis to multiple teams and age groups. All coaches will vary in what type of content they want you to produce for them and their teams, so it is important for me to work closely with them and have an understanding of how they want to deliver analysis to their players. This, as well as the fact that different aged players require different types of analysis means that I, as well as the club, need to be flexible in our approach to analysis. For example, the younger teams may have a bit more focus on the individual player analysis and not spend too much time on opposition analysis. This pendulum might start to swing as they go from the foundation phase up to the professional development phase in their football education.

PA UK: What do you think is next for the analysis industry?

EL: While it is tough to truly know how other clubs are working, not only in Europe, but throughout the world, I get the impression that data analytics is rapidly growing and becoming more of a factor within the football industry. I also think the gap between clubs with a very professional analysis department, compared to the clubs with either no analysis department or a very small one needs to be closed a bit. I get the feeling that there are still many clubs who may not have the appropriate resources to deliver worthwhile or appropriate analysis. I think that may put the players at these clubs at a big disadvantage in the future, compared to the players who may spend their entire youth careers with analysis as a big part of their development. As an analyst myself, I of course see great value in analysis as part of a players overall development. So I would say integrating analysis into more clubs, and improving the quality would be a big step in the right direction.

PA UK: What tool has the biggest impact on your job?

EL: Working mostly with video analysis, I definitely am using Hudl Sportscode more than any other tool. I have used other analysis tools in the past, but as of now we are working with Hudl Sportscode. I have had a very good experience using this tool, and the players have quickly taken to using the platform as well. It is a fantastic tool for sharing film or clips, not only with the players but coaches too.

PA UK: What advice would you give someone that wants a job in the industry?

EL: The simple answer is to work hard. It is not an easy industry to get started in, as there is a lot of people who would love to work full time in football. I consider myself extremely lucky to do what I love for a living, but at the same time it was not easy to get started. Unfortunately, for most people without a big playing background you will need to gain experience through other avenues. This will most likely mean doing some volunteering or working lots of hours before a good opportunity will present itself. I think it is very important to reach out to people you may know within the industry or try and connect through coaching courses or social media for example. I am always happy to speak with other coaches or analysts that reach out. It is important that you are extremely persistent as well. Clubs are not just looking for random people to come work for them so it´s important to take initiative when you have the chance. You also have to remember that people and clubs are very busy, this means that if you send one message or email it´s not certain you will always get a reply, don´t be afraid to reach out again, in a polite way of course.

If you are interested in working in football 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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