Liverpool is undergoing a period of change and with Julian Ward set to leave his sporting director role at the end of the season, Ian Graham is now set to follow.
Liverpool has reclaimed their place at the table of Europe’s heavyweight football clubs over the past seven years, reaching four European finals and accumulating over 90 points in the Premier League on three separate occasions. A whole host of saviors have been credited with restoring success to Anfield, from Jürgen Klopp to Michael Edwards to Pep Lijnders to Mohamed Salah to Virgil van Dijk.
Ian Graham’s name, however, is rarely muttered among supporters. In fact, even the most obsessive Reds would walk right past him on the street, without ever realizing his almost unrivaled level of contribution to Fenway Sports Group’s operation over the past decade.
He was appointed to Merseyside in 2012, but no announcement was made about his arrival. Since, he’s refused interview requests while constructing Liverpool’s data science department from scratch, employing his own team of PhDs to nurture efficiency and inform the club’s decision-making processes.
10, has followed the rise of the Boston Red Sox in the world of baseball, who had applied renowned Moneyball methods — popularised by Bill James and Billy Beane — to deliver their first World Series in 86 years.
An advocate of using data to gain an edge, John W. Henry was destined to apply and empower the same evidence-based principles in football, and Graham took a note from afar while contracted to Decision Technology, a firm founded to assess consumer behavior across different industries, providing forecasts and predictions using data modeling.
The Welshman was appointed after the UK-based company branched out to begin offering their services in football. Graham provided numerical expertise for a weekly column in The Times, started his own blog in an attempt to debunk common myths surrounding the sport using data, and worked as a consultant for Tottenham Hotspur.
He was a trailblazer one of the first of his kind to enter space, as a scientist working in football. While in contact with Spurs, the Cambridge physicist developed a working relationship with Edwards and Damien Comolli, both of whom would later combine to bring him to Anfield after Henry failed with a bid to buy Decision Technology outright.