It was two and a half years ago, when I was managing Reading, that I became a ProZone convert. The system is not cheap but we managed to book it for the play-off matches against Wolves. The first leg finished 2-1 to Wolves and when I began going through the match on ProZone ahead of the second game we noticed this connection between Lee Naylor, at left-back, and Nathan Blake in attack which we had not dealt with. I remember we thought "we must block that in the second game". I could remember it happening in the first game but had not noticed to that extent. It does throw up things like that now and again. I remember thinking "the first club I get to which can afford it, I'll get it".
For scouting the opposition and analysing your team it gives you a wealth of information you cannot get with the naked eye, like those passing patterns. It is a supplement to your judgement. I don't make decisions on players just on it. Sometimes you look at the stats and think "there's no way I can play him, he looks that poor", but you have to look at the game, how it evolved and how much involvement he had in it. It is not a system you could base the club on but it reinforces some things and opens your eyes to others.
It also tracks the movement of your own team. A manager might say "you should all move together" and you can see if you are or you aren't. If you have a breakaway and you are still camped on the edge of your box it is not what you want to see. It can highlight those things.
We use it for an opposition report ahead of all matches and in a defensive meeting on what happened in the last game. I like to use it to cite the positive. It would be easy to just point errors out. It is not there to be smartarse, it is there to show the strength of your performance and it can be as good at showing positives as negatives. It's a more sophisticated version of video. Some of the better managers I had would compile a tape showing the good things you'd done in a game: in my case, it might be about three and half minutes long.
The scouting value varies. It's obviously good for set-plays but can also highlight general play. We played Man City recently and ProZone showed the discipline in their team, the fact they do not move much out of their holes and are very solid. It showed when they attack you they do so in a certain manner and they have an out ball, [Antoine] Sibierski on the right-hand side. If they are in trouble and can't play through you they hit him: you have to be aware of that. But most of that we would have scouted anyway.
Arsenal was more interesting because we worked out a way that might work better for us in terms of how they played. It worked for us on the day [West Ham drew 1-1]. I'm not telling anyone what it was, though. We have to play them again this season.
Obviously, we know other teams will be using it to work us out. That means we have to evolve, but a team does that anyway. The team that starts a season never ends it.Reuse content