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Soccernomics
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on 7 October 2012
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Mr Kuper and Mr Szymanski have tried to rationalise the beautiful game. I don't think they've been succesful, but have made a good attempt non the less. You can't put all the different facets of a football match into meaningful statistics andf say "I told you that would happen" - ultimately there is too much chance involved in football and even though I'll admit that some of their data does reflect real life, (ie - the link between experience, GDP, population size and a nation's chances of winning international competitions) you still can't explain why Greece won the Euros - chance, not something which you could have forseen if working from their theories and data sets.

It's not all nonsense though, as I said there are some real life correlations that they have adequately explained between what has happened in football and what should have happened - the chapter about football tournament host nations' suicide rates during the hosting period had some interesting figures.

I wouldn't say that this is a serious work of non-fiction - you probably wouldn't reference it if writing a thesis about statistical analysis in football. However, for the casual fan who has often wondered about the patterns that often appear in the game (why and how do the big clubs stay big, why do England expect that they will win every tournament they enter?)then I can recommend it as there is enough in there to be found interesting.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 16 December 2013
One of the greatest books I've ever read, if not THE best book!! Amazing not just for me, an economics student, but easily accessible for anyone else! Great insights into football transfers, why teams fail/succeed among other great details. Extremely fascinating book!! Recommended for anyone/everyone!! The best!
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Andrew Lang once opined "An unsophisticated forecaster uses statistics as a drunken man uses lamp-posts - for support rather than for illumination", while Mark Twain said "Facts are stubborn, but statistics are more pliable." That said this updated version of "Why England Lose " by sportswriter Simon Kuper and economist Stefan Szymanski makes some very interesting and salient points .I would go as far as to say it is essential reading for anyone seriously interested in the beautiful game.
This book uses the concepts and approaches discussed in Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game as well as Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything and transfers ( on a Bosman free no doubt ) them over to the world of football. And thus they come to the conclusion that wages more than transfers dictate whether a teams is successful or not. That mangers have little impact on a teams performance , that penalties have little impact on results ( try telling that to England ) and that the nation most obsessed with Football is ahem( spoiler here folks ) Norway.
The book also casts a more predictive global eye on the game and predicts that future super powers of the game may not come from where we expect. It also explains brilliantly how Spain have come to rule the football roost.
There is also some startling data that shows that given certain criteria ( Population , income per head and experience ) that the England football team are actually overachieving slightly .Ohh and they perform better under foreign managers than under English ones, with Fabio Capello top of the list which puts some of the glee when he resigned/ was sacked into context. And the authors come to the conclusion that England perform so badly at tournament football because they are knackered ,which watching Scott Parker in the Euros, who looked knackered singing the National anthem, might just be the case.
Statistics can prove many things but they do not always tells the whole truth. The authors assertion about changing managers having no real effect, other than a short term fillip which could be equally due to luck or something equally amorphous look flawed when you take into account how Chelsea performed after sacking A.V.B. And the lack of importance of penalties clearly hasn't filtered through to Ashley Young who dived so blatantly to win two penalties in the latter stages of last season. Maybe if he had practised his ball retention instead of his fosbury flop he would not have had such a wretched time in the Euros?
But then that's one of the many great things about football .Football is still a game of intangibles that usually make a difference. And you can number crunch till the cows come home ( usually just after England are knocked out on penalties )but you will never really solve the impenetrable mysteries dramas and vagaries of the sport.
That said i repeat, i would still highly recommend reading Soccernomics , just for the issues it raises that are truly worth thinking about. Like the fact that we might soon see a sizable shift in the power base of both club and international football. Goodness knows, plenty of people involved with English football could do with thinking more about the game.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 27 July 2012
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
A book in the same vein as Freakonomics, taking widely held beliefs and holding them up to the scrutiny of statistics eg which country is really the biggest football fans, or the real impact of a manager on a team. Entertaining and interesting if a bit overlong in some of the explanations of methods used.
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on 11 January 2013
Naturally, this text fills a specific niche. As an economics student, I can appreciate the analytical inference as well as the dedication to data analysis, but also of the freakonomics-esque application to an unconventional topic. As a fan of football, particularly of the premier league, I appreciated the break from the usual trite commentary that accompanies every major international competition (the chapter on England was particularly refreshing). However, besides some surface level Labour economics and game theory, this text doesn't incorporate economic analysis as much as statistics, so the title is somewhat misleading. Still, I enjoyed their slant on football an it certainly informed me on the hot issues of transfer markets and international dominance - an overall worthwhile read.
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VINE VOICEon 8 December 2012
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I am not a huge football fan, but I am married to one and I enjoy popular economics books. I had also noticed this book under its old title of "Why England Lose" and thought it might be interesting. I found it an entertaining straightforward read. Despite watching very little football, I followed the book without any difficulty, and when it mentioned specific events, I found YouTube invaluable. I now feel I know a lot about the economics of football and the science and rationale behind hirings, firings and transfers of the premier league. Now when transfers and sackings are in the news I feel I have a bit of insider information of what is really going on. This would make an excellent gift for a football widow, who like myself has never really "got" the game.
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on 27 June 2013
A simply great book, well written and easy to understand, a review of all aspects of football backed up with powerful statistical analysis. The chapter on what impact managers have on results was a real eye-opener, their predictions on the effect of the world cup on Brazils economy seem more then spookily accurate. A book which I read last May but which I still come back to again and again to check and re-check on its many areas, from the game theory around the perfect penalty taking, to the best way to maximise transfer spending. For anyone with a serious interest in how football works, why Spain are the best, why England will never win the world cup, look no further.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 15 March 2013
Excellent book giving the other side of football off the pitch.
Detailed analysis and controversial comment always good for a football fan.
would recommend it to any one interested in football.
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on 4 July 2012
For anyone involved in football as a player, coach, manager, fan or otherwise this is a MUST READ! It dispels with rational research, statistics and researched facts many of the myths/beliefs driven through popular media over the years and which we are all, including myself, capable of 'swallowing up' as fact. The chapters on Penalties, Why England Lose and why Spain have become the best national team on the planet alone make buying the book worthwhile and I challenge any football 'fan' (in the widest sense of the word) not to be astounded and more importantly truly enlightened by reading this book even if only the 3 chapters I mention.
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on 18 October 2012
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This reminded me a bit of the old "Donald Duck in Mathemagic Land" movie. Plenty of provocative, stimulating ideas but ultimately lightweight, more fun than substance.

What the writers have done is some statistical jiggerypokery around the subject of (mainly British) football, spun it a bit for the US market and - bosh - bags of fun.

However, some of their assertions may look good on paper but ignore the very human nature of a largely tribal male sport which is increasingly detached from its social and community roots.

Fine for a bit of fun but does not bear serious thought.
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