17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars
A good piece of work, 28 Oct 2009
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. It cuts through a lot of the hype and guff that are spouted at us by the likes of Sky, ITV and the BBC - if you find yourself rolling your eyes at Sky's pre-match build up every Sunday, or wincing as Andy Gray/Andy Townsend/Lawro trot out another cliché then this book is absolutely for you.
For the most part, the statistical analysis is well explained, well presented and genuinely enlightening. There are also some fascinating insights from experts within football, but even more from experts outside football and for that reason alone I could quite happily have devoured another thousand pages. So much of this book was 'fresh' - that's really the ony way I can put it that makes sense.
I have absolutely no hesitation in recommending this book, despite my grumbles. And furthermore, once you've also read it, I guarantee you will probably want to put it in an envelope and send it to your club's Chairman/Manager with the note "Please, please, please read this!!!"