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Why England Lose: And Other Curious Football Phenomena Explained (Unabridged)
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Why England Lose: And Other Curious Football Phenomena Explained (Unabridged) [Audio Download]

by Simon Kuper (Author), Stefan Szymanski (Author), Colin Mace (Narrator)
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
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Product details

  • Audio Download
  • Listening Length: 12 hours and 52 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: Audible Studios
  • Audible.co.uk Release Date: 29 April 2010
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B003JU6H1Y
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
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Product Description

Why do England lose? Why does Scotland suck? Why doesn't America play the sport internationally... and why do the Germans play with such an efficient but robotic style?

Using insights and analogies from economics, statistics, psychology and business to cast a new and entertaining light on how the game works, "Why England Lose" reveals the often surprisingly counterintuitive truths about soccer.

No training in economics is needed to read Why England Lose. But the listener will come away from it with a better understanding not just of football, but of how economists think and why they know.

©2009 Simon Kuper and Stefan Szymanski ; (P)2010 Audible Ltd

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
`Why England Lose' or `Soccernomics' - to give it its non-UK title - is an attempt by Simon Kuper, a leading football writer, and sports economist, Stefan Szymanski, to give football the `freakonomics' treatment. The result is sometimes entertaining and often interesting, but overall the effect is somewhat uneven and frequently bogged down by the authors' attempts to provide a theoretical framework for their musings.

Comparisons with Moneyball, Michael Lewis's 2003 account of how Billy Beane revolutionized the Oakland Athletics baseball team through statistical analysis, are inevitable. At times `Why England Lose' seems a self conscious attempt to give football the Moneyball treatment . But the very nature of the game is less controlled than baseball, which essentially boils down to one-on-one encounters between pitcher and batter. Football's inherent randomness, despite the authors attempts to argue otherwise, make it more difficult to be influenced by statistical theory.

Arsene Wenger is the golden boy of this book. He has used statistics and psychology to brilliant effect, particularly in the first half of his career as Arsenal manager. The authors unravel some of his strategies, but don't really add much new. There's a sense that even an in-the-know fan could suss them out (buy young, sell after a player has peaked, make a player feel wanted, and so on) over a few post-match pints.

But instead of on-the-field business the authors explain other footballing phenomena. Some, such as why new stadiums and football tournaments don't bring desired economic benefit, is fascinating. Others, such as which country is the best `pound for-pound' footballing nation, less so.

This is an entertaining book, but I'd stop short of describing it as a must read.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good piece of work 28 Oct 2009
By Dode
Most importantly, the first 200 pages of this book are excellent reading - please keep that in mind while I get through a couple of minor irritants!

As someone else mentioned, I found my attention drifting through the middle section of the book. I couldn't quite see the point of some sections, and others seemed to huff and puff for page after page without any meaningful conclusion.

Secondly, about half way through I had to skip back to the front to see if I hadn't missed a foreword by Arsene Wenger. This is a very `Arsenal' book. There are numerous digs at Liverpool and Spurs, and every 3 pages either Chelsea or Man Utd are being cited as a negative example of something or other. Looking at the index, Arsenal and/or Wenger are mentioned 45 times - and every single reference shows Arsenal in a positive light. While some are perfectly justified, a piece on loyal supporters uses Nick Hornby (a famous Arsenal supporter and author) as the archetypal diehard (they are called "Hornbyesque fans") really stretched credibility. No offence to Hornby (who if I remember rightly, grew up a long way from North London anyway) but writing on the subject of diehard supporters and using Arsenal as a positive example? I would accuse the authors of a lack of research but I suspect at least one is a regular visitor to the Emirates!

But these irritants should not detract from the book as a whole. As I mentioned, the first 200 pages of this book are an absolute joy. Depending on your view of football many of these chapters will either confirm a lot of things you may already have suspected, or better still, come as an absolute revelation.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition
A book about football and statistics may not sound like everyone's cup of tea, but I found this surprisingly readable and accessible. I have long held similar views to much of what is said and although I might quibble over a few details, I would agree with the general gist of the book. This book seems meticulously researched and although some other reviewers have said it appears somewhat slapdash on the Kindle, this seems to have been remedied as I found no such typos or layout problems. Perhaps for an updated edition, it might be an idea to include some charts, tables or diagrams for those who can't instantly recall how well England performed in every World Cup or Euro Championships. Recommended.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars for Content 27 Sep 2011
Format:Kindle Edition
This book makes a number of ironical comments about football and associated attitudes, but the biggest irony of all is that there should be explicit thanks to the "copy editor who saved us from many errors". In this Kindle version the number of errors in punctuation and spelling is so great as to get in the way of the meaning. Having said that, the content of the book is terrific, so perhaps it is fairer to concentrate on that aspect before noting some examples of the awful presentation that (for me) earns a yellow card and the loss of a star.

One early analogy for the study of football statistics struck me as excellent. One can drive a car without a dashboard display, but having the dashboard instruments makes it a lot easier. From this starting point the authors set out on a fascinating review of all aspects of economic and social behaviour to explain the rise and fall of various clubs and countries.

No database seems to be beyond them. No sooner have we looked at the extra goals per game that a home team might expect to expect, than we are into an argument (based on persuasive facts) that there are far fewer suicides in years when there are big tournaments. It can get a bit nerdy, but generally the tone is light enough to carry you along.

The central argument, which is referred to often enough without being dominant, is that England (given its population, experience and GDP) provides "a good team that does better than most". In other words, there should be no great expectation of winning trophies; England should rank about 7 or 8 in the world, and by reaching quarter-finals so often they justify that expectation. It's a sober and sensible view that all TV commentators should be forced to read.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Doesn't make you popular down the pub
A fascinating read which disproves a large number of assumptions football fans make.

A reader with a basic knowledge of statistics would probably enjoy it more - each... Read more
Published 1 month ago by JC Blue since 87
4.0 out of 5 stars A good read, even for a non-football fan
Bought this for my daughter, who is studying Sport Science. But both me and my wife have been fascinated by the stories and theories, some of which even have real-life value. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Tom in Malvern
5.0 out of 5 stars Why England Lose
Simon and Stefan's book is an entertaining book, and it tries to answer a question that really started on 14th June 1970. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Amazon Customer
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, but ..
Interesting, but here and there some weird conclusions that does not always seem to be backed by data. Read more
Published 15 months ago by Simon Bager
4.0 out of 5 stars Great idea
Maybe it's a bit contrived as an idea, but it's still a really well-executed and well-researched book, and it makes for a good, surprisingly accessible read (on the whole - some... Read more
Published 22 months ago by DCollins77
3.0 out of 5 stars Kindle version is a joke
I have to confirm that the earlier reviews about the Kindle version are absolutely right. If you crumpled up a photocopy of the paperback, fed it through a scanner and used 15... Read more
Published 23 months ago by Elephant
1.0 out of 5 stars A truly awful triumph of misdirection represented as fact
Never in the history of literature has someone presented so much misdirection and selective fact picking and tried to create a hypothesis that is professed as correct. Read more
Published 23 months ago by SideshowAl
1.0 out of 5 stars Pick and choose your stats and they are worthless
For a book that tries to equate MoneyBall to soccer it completely misses the point. It picks and chooses facts, wraps it in very basic stats to make it sound like they have done... Read more
Published on 8 April 2012 by Rockhoppers
5.0 out of 5 stars Footballonomics
This was an extremely entertaining and informative book. A sort of combination of "Moneyball" and" Freakonomics". Read more
Published on 1 Jan 2012 by The Emperor
5.0 out of 5 stars Why England Lose: And other curoius phenomena explained.
Excellant read. Very entertaining. Its the sort of book once you pick up you wont put down again until you have read it from cover to cover. Read more
Published on 30 Dec 2011 by Noahsway
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