Why Alex Stewart has been an inspiration at Tifo Football

Today marks a sad day – the day that Alex Stewart announced his departure from Tifo Football. Alex has been an inspiration for many in the tactics community, and continues to serve as a reminder of what can be accomplished in the tactics and analytics field.

One of the reasons why Alex’s work on Tifo stands out so prevalently is due to the suave sophistication within the words and language he uses to describe the various aspects of the game. I often hear people say that it’s best to communicate in a way in which everyone reading or listening would understand. Wholeheartedly, I have come to disagree with that ideology. By communicating in more complex ways and actively using the terminology most applicable to the situation, Alex encourages anyone watching or listening to a Tifo Football production to go what we call “scuba diving.” Essentially, what this means is that if you don’t understand something that you’re reading or listening to, it’s up to you to dig deeper and find the resources that can alleviate the gap in knowledge. Alex actively encourages that kind of constant learning process, and it’s something he clearly embodies within his own work.

As even more of an inspiration to the community, Alex (to our knowledge) has little to no coaching experience, coaching badges or licenses, and did not study anything to do with this realm in university. He worked incredibly hard with his written work, constantly worked to expand his football knowledge, learn from others in the field, and through a bit of networking, got in with the right people from his dedicated work. He then made his name known through the quality of his work, and his natural knack for communicating effectively.

Remarkably unique in his approach, Alex has shown an incredible personality as part of the Tifo team, through showing next to zero actual personality. Very staunchly monotone and unwaveringly unenthusiastic in tone, Alex has been one of the most captivating people to listen to in the entire tactics sphere – and that’s in large part down to his incredible depth of knowledge shining through with each and every sophisticated sentence he puts together. This approach has only worked to compliment the enthusiasm of J.J. Bull after he entered the fold last year; not to mention wonderfully balancing out Joe Devine’s outlandish personality. While there are a plentitude of knowledgeable people in the industry that could do a great job at Tifo in Alex’s stead, the channel will be fortunate to find someone who balances the other three so magnificently well, in addition to bringing the tactical depth of knowledge each and every episode.

I started watching Tifo Football videos around the end of 2017, a little over a year after starting this site. What immediately struck me about the quality of work produced by Alex, Joe and Seb was the way in which they made any team’s specific tactics stand out as a completely unique entity, despite all the commonalities that exist in tactics around the world. When I began writing my own tactical analyses and sparking that greater analytical edge in my body of work, I often used Tifo as a credible reference to cross-check my thoughts and ideas before publishing. I can remember being particularly joyous to see Alex make reference to Southampton’s use of high-balls in their Hasenhuttl analysis, and Roma’s use of Pau Lopez as an unorthodox member of the build-up in their Fonseca analysis. Since then, the work of Tifo (and Alex in particular) has continued to be a way in which I, and many others, can continue to learn about the game from knowledgeable others.

In ‘The simple task anyone can do to improve their tactical knowledge‘, I referenced how anyone who would qualify as being “football-obsessed” can learn more about the game via using a variety of sources from those who simply know more about the game. That may include the coaches or writers in one’s own community, but also the work of some of the best the industry – such as the writers at The Athletic or the likes of Alex and Seb at Tifo. For what it’s worth, Alex has always been someone that I look up to as a tactical expert who simply knows more about the game. I may have years of experience coaching and leading programs on the pitch that have led me on a great path toward expertise, but Alex is a genuine expert and a hub of knowledge that anyone should continue to learn from – wherever he ends up next or whatever he ends up doing, whether that be in football or not.

So it’s a sad day and a sad goodbye for someone who’s been one of the driving forces behind perhaps the most well-regarded tactics channel to enter our sphere in the last decade. But if anyone is truly feeling sad about it to the point of no return, it’s worth mentioning there are still hundreds of videos and podcasts that include Alex and his wonderful depth of knowledge, that can be retrieved any time. So we say goodbye to Alex on Tifo, but it is clearly not a goodbye forever.

Best of luck on your new adventures Alex, we will be following your career and cheering you on from the sidelines wherever you end up.

– Rhys and the TMS crew.

You might also enjoy…

-> Why patterns and context are so essential to analysis in football
-> The simple task anyone can do to improve their tactical knowledge
-> How I watch football matches for tactical analyses

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