The Numbers Game – Chris Anderson, David Sally

It is easy…to think of soccer as a game of superstars. They provide the glamour, the genius, the moments of inspiration. They sell the shirts and fill the seats. But they do not decide who wins games and who wins championships. That honour falls to the incompetents at the heart of the defense or the miscommunicating clowns in midfield. Soccer is a weak-link game. This has profound implications for how we see soccer, how clubs should be built and teams constructed, how sides should be run and substitutions made. It changes the very way we think about the game.

Did you know that making your worst players perform better gets you more points than getting your best players improve?

Did you know that the wage bill of a club is the best indicator for the club’s performance?

Did you know that most goals have about four passes before the final shot?

The book analyses football statistics to the bone, looking at all factors: goals, finance, training, transfers, etc. While a bit dry for non-mathematical minds, it shows great understanding and research into the details of the sport.

Inspired by the famous Moneyball book and movie, based on the real statistician who transformed baseball, this volume does the same to football.

Pioneering football analytics

It looks at everything related to the game, from before the match, on the pitch, management and finally after the match.

Each phase of the game is researched in great statistical detail, showing the analytics that are now norm in the professional game.

While filled with charts and statistics, the volume is easy to follow and good at explaining facts, despite the mathematical language often used. Goals are the main target of analysis and other factors are brilliantly explained in their relation to the game. The only part that is maybe missing is the marketing part

Overall, the volume from Chris Anderson and David Sally  is an absolute treasure for football’s cerebral fans.

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