JLife sits down with Jordan Nathan, Intern First Team Performance Analyst at Burnley FC, about his work with the recently promoted football club.
A relatively new career path, football mad Jordan Nathan is building a career in analytics with championship side Burnley FC, newly promoted to the Premier League for next season under the guidance of sought after manager Vincent Kompany. Moving from London last September, Jordan lives in Burnley but through his university friends and playing for Manchester Maccabi, he is staying in touch with Jewish circles.
Hi Jordan, what a season it’s been for you at Burnley! Tell us about your background, and how it all started?
I grew up in Bushey, London, and went to Yavneh school at Boreham Wood. An avid Arsenal fan I always loved my football and the detail behind it but didn’t really plan to work in it, although I would have loved to be a footballer! After school I studied Psychology at Nottingham Trent University and followed that with a master’s degree in science at Brunel University in London, where the lecturer first introduced me to the world of football analytics. I enjoyed collecting data and presenting it, and coupled with my love of football, after researching into it I ended up writing a dissertation on the subject.
So how does a nice Jewish boy from North London end up at Burnley?
It happened during COVID really, when I thought I needed to get some experience, and used the time to create my LinkedIn profile. I wrote to lots of PR clubs to offer my services voluntarily, and Exeter City gave me some work, looking at games and preparing some analysis, although I’m not sure they ever looked at it! After some freelance at Milton Keynes Dons, I landed a job at Borham Wood FC.
Last season the club had a great run in the FA Cup, and I became Head of Performance Analysis, but as a non-league club the pay wasn’t great, so I applied to some league clubs. Burnley were looking for an intern. With a forward-thinking new manger like Vincent Kompany, analysis plays an important part, and I
landed the role. It’s a great atmosphere and there were many changes after last season’s relegation from the personnel to the style of play, but the team has done really well, and it’s been great to be part of it.
Being in Burnley on my own has been made easier by the welcoming staff at the club, and although I miss family and friends from London, I have friends in north Manchester from university and playing for Manchester Maccabi 1st has helped me integrate with the community here.
Football fans may have heard about performance analysis now, but what exactly is it all about?
Well at Burnley we have a team of four working with the management and players, we all have different roles, from providing video clips of the opposition in games against similar teams, to individual player clips, looking at opposition tactics like set pieces and defensive play, and debriefing after our games. It’s
really interesting, and Vinnie (Vincent Kompany) trusts us to provide insightful information for team meetings. He’s a fantastic manager and person. Hopefully the insights we provide helps the team
and results have demonstrated that this season.
You must find it hard to watch football now as a fan!
Not hard, but I’m watching how teams set up and the shape more now, so it’s different, but no less enjoyable! It’s a full on job, six days a week during the season, so there’s not much time to watch other games, unless its Arsenal of course! Its also really helped my own development as a player learning every day from watching professional coaches and attending team meetings.
It sounds like your career is blossoming and you love what you do, what does the future hold for you and Burnley?
I absolutely am loving it. I’ve been offered a full-time job from next season so I’m delighted that I’ll be here, and hopefully I can build my experience in the Premier League where the pressure will be on to establish Burnley back in the top league. There are many facets to performance analysis and with new technology it’s a real career. I’m not looking too far ahead right now, I guess as an Arsenal fan I can dream of working there in some capacity. Would I go to Tottenham if offered a job there? I’m not so sure.