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Billy Grant and Matt Allard from Beesotted sat down with football analyst Ted Knutson from Statsbomb to discuss how analytics has improved Brentford over the years and what the future looks like for The Bees. They also asked the question whether Brentford’s season – despite losing to Fulham in the playoff final – was seen as a success or a failure.


It’s a well known fact that Brentford and analytics go together just like – as a good olde West Indian saying goes – ‘batty and bench’. The analytics revolution was officially launched in the summer after the departure of Mark Warburton. The media were quick to lambast Brentford for their move to using number to scout players and give then a cutting edge.

The truth is – Brentford had been using analytics way Warburton left. Mathematics was used to identify a number of players including Andre Gray, Scott Hogan, James Tarkowski and Jota. But don’t let facts get in the way of a good story. 

Roll on five years and Brentford are now being lauded as being and incredibly well run club with a reputation for finding great players for relatively little money, developing them then moving them on for huge profit – keeping the club sustainable. 

One of the people who was brought on board at Griffin Park to help kick on the ‘analytics revolution’ was football analyst Ted Knutson from Statsbomb. He came on board at a time Brentford had tweaked their strategy and decided to make sweeping changes in playing staff after losing a number of key players after the playoff loss to Middlesbrough. 

Ted joins us on the Beesotted podcast this week for a really interesting look at how analytics has helped Brentford become more successful over the years and despite having the top three lowest turnovers in The Championship, have been able to compete against teams with far bigger budgets than them due to the clubs’ clever use of the transfer market. 

The opening question was to ask Ted – in the analysts’ eyes, was Brentford’s season seen as successful – despite the playoff final loss – or a failure. And ultimately where did it go wrong?

We then went on to discuss a number of other points including: 

  • Isn’t stats all nonsense? Surely it’s about whoever scores the most goals. Or is it?
  • Luck in footballing terms and how big an effect luck has on a football season
  • The difference between Dean Smith and Thomas Frank’s term as head coach at Brentford
  • Defensive midfield. How important is Norgaard? And do we need a Douglas or Toumani type player in the side
  • Fan rationality (or irrationality)
  • How did Fulham outmanoeuvre Brentford in the playoff final? Didn’t Brentford choke? Or were Fulham good?
  • Could Fulham have executed the same gameplan if Mitrovic was playing?
  • If Brentford’s ‘magical players’ are not performing, does our whole gameplan fall down?
  • How did the Barnsley and Stoke games at the end of the season fit into the bigger scheme of things with regards promotion? 
  • What about the early matches like Birmingham and Charlton where Brentford should have won?
  • Spreadsheet w@nkers – Brentford previously finished lower than predicted by the statisticians. This season they finished higher/on par. What was the difference?
  • This season we bought experienced players. How much difference has that made to the team? Do we need to buy more experience?
  • Have set pieces improved for Brentford this season? In what way?
  • Long throws. How could long throws improve Brentford (this was recorded before Brentford signed long throw expert Charlie Goode)
  • The Warburton era – where did we stand in terms of set pieces? What position could we have got to if we improved set pieces alone?
  • Why did Brentford lose a quarter of their games 1-0 this season?
  • Has having no fans in the stadium helped Brentford?
  • Do Brentford need to bring in different types of players to combat teams clogging the defence and midfield and stopping their creative play?
  • Do Brentford need to become better at the dark arts and sh!thousing?
  • The future. What players will go? How will Brentford fare after selling three or four key players this summer?
  • How good are Brentford at finding centre backs ?
  • Why did Jack O’Connell pass us by? Why did we let him go after signing him through our stats analysis?
  • What type of players do we need to buy in the closed season?
  • What does Brentford need to improve on in the closed season?
  • We may have failed this season, but is the Premier League an inevitability for Brentford?

0 min – Intro. Who is Ted Knutson? What has he done? What is the benefit of using Stats in football?

7 m 10 sec – Has Brentford’s season been successful. And where did it go wrong? Did Brentford choke? Luck. Brentford and midfield. Fan rationality 

17m 10 – Was it Brentford who choked or did Fulham play the game of their lives? Mitrovic. Skilful players. Barnsley and Stoke. More luck. Spreadsheet wankers. Experienced players

33m 58 sec – Set pieces for Brentford throughout the ages. Long throws. Corners. Set piece coaches. Brentford losing 1-0 for more than quarter of their matches. No fans in the stadia. Plan A and plan B. Do Brentford need different players to execute plan B? Sh!thousing. Do Brentford need to be better at it?

45m 33 sec – The Future and Brentford. Which players will we lose close season? Centre backs and Brentford. Where do players like Canos and Marcondes fit into the future? Who should we sign? What areas do we need to strengthen next season? Will Brentford eventually get to the Premier League?

59m 19 sec END