Boleyn People - Jamie Benson

Head of Academy Technical and Recruitment Analysis Jamie Benson is helping Academy graduates break into the first-team squad
Head of Academy Technical and Recruitment Analysis Jamie Benson is helping Academy of Football graduates break into the first-team squad...
The good news for experienced analysts like Jamie Benson is that the relatively new trend of technical and recruitment analysis looks set to keep growing and growing.

As a result, he and his colleagues are playing an increasingly important role in the day-to-day development of professional footballers.

Describing his role, Benson said: “I was originally a first-team support analyst, then with the Academy gaining Category One Status (the top grade), the Academy Analysis structure needed to be developed so I started working with the U16s, then the U18s and now the U21s.

“Our importance has definitely grown. Over the last two or three years it has progressed immensely with the new software and the better understanding that coaches have of the benefits of performance analysis.

“The growth is obvious within our Academy Department from having just two performance analysts, to now having nine; three full-time, three part-time and three students.”

With increasing importance comes increasing pressure on the performance analysts, who are charged with identifying strengths and weaknesses and informing the coaching staff, who will then present their findings to the players.

“At first team level, the cost of not winning three points could cost you your job, so the preparation of analysing the opposition in great detail helps give us an insight into their strengths and weaknesses.

“Then, focusing on our own players, the technical analysis procedure and protocols that we have set are based around the individual's needs in their own development.

“It’s about identifying where our players are and what they need, and then helping that player develop, by highlighting certain areas for improvement. As well as identifying patterns and trends in our own players’ performances, we also use examples from the world’s best players in their positions to educate our players. So the importance of analysis at all levels is at an all-time high.”

Having developed a love of football, Benson coached part-time at Chelsea while working towards a Football Studies degree at Southampton Solent University, a breeding ground for analysts across the country, including West Ham’s very own first-team pre-match analyst Charlie Radmore.

Having graduated, Isle of Wight-born Benson worked at Reading FC before joining West Ham, where he is now enjoying helping Academy youngsters to progress.

“With the Academy, trying to help players break into the first team is very special. Seeing them make that step, especially lately with all the debutants we’ve had, I get a lot of enjoyment out of that.

“There’s a great atmosphere around the Academy. They players are seeing that there is that opportunity to get into the first-team squad. Reece Burke being a good example, he came into the team at the end of last season and is now doing really well out on loan at Bradford City. There’s a lot of opportunity and the new manager has shown that he’s happy to give young players a chance.”

Perhaps most importantly, is the fact that the players are buying into the significance of watching clips of themselves in matches as well as training.

With use of the Coach Logic software, the Analysis Department are able to provide a vast amount of video information to players across all ages of the Academy.

“Every player is different in terms of what makes them tick and how they learn. Some players like to be shown or told what to do, some want to try it out and some prefer to reflect and watch themselves back.

“Every player, from U9 up to the senior players, all have access to with their own unique log in and are able to watch good and bad examples of their own performances, as well as their daily training sessions.

“A great example would be Josh Cullen, who on a daily basis, is at the Training Ground gone 6pm still watching his own clips and wanting more feedback on aspects of his game. Also, Djair Parfitt-Williams is every day the first player to come in from training and wants to reflect upon his performance – even before lunch!”