The Numbers Game: Why Everything You Know About Football is Wrong Paperback – 30 May 2013
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A must-read . . . Chris Anderson and David Sally have the ability to see football in a way few have before them. Be warned: The Numbers Game will change the way you think about your favourite team or player, and change the way you watch the beautiful game. (Billy Beane, General Manager of the Oakland A's, the subject of Moneyball)
A fascinating and stylish investigation into a rapidly developing way of understanding football (Jonathan Wilson, author of Inverting the Pyramid: The History of Football Tactics)
Whether you are a traditionalist or a numbers nut you can enjoy this book. It's thorough, accessible, and devoid of the absolute truths so many on both sides of the debate peddle. (Gabriele Marcotti, football broadcaster and author)
It is the book that could change the game forever (Times)
You need to like football. Millions of people do. And they should rush to read this book immediately. The game they love will take on new depth, colour and subtlety (Ed Smith The Times)
Does the impossible of making the beautiful game even more beautiful (Malcolm Gladwell)
About the Author
At 17, Chris Anderson found himself playing in goal for a fourth division club in West Germany; today, he's a professor in the Ivy League at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. An award winning social scientist and football analytics pioneer, Anderson consults with leading clubs about how best to play the numbers game. David Sally is a former baseball pitcher and a professor at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College in the US, where he analyses the strategies and tactics people use when they play, compete, negotiate, and make decisions. He is an adviser to clubs and other organizations in the global football industry.
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Top Customer Reviews
But quibbles apart, there's lots to interest and entertain the "serious" football fan, and the book is well-written and presented, and manages to present some fairly complex statistical analysis in a clear and helpful way.
My reservations: the style seemed to me a bit long-winded (with the authors wanting always to build up to their punchlines/surprising findings a bit too much); the chapter on 'predictions' I could do without (I'm not sure how falsifiable most of them are!); and the central thesis - that perhaps there is no one 'right' or 'best' way to play football, because the game evolves and styles of attack and defence evolve - is perhaps underplayed.Of course perhaps it isn't the central thesis of the book - the authors do seem to think that while Stoke or Wigan might defeat (some of) the numbers through their style of play, neither will ever be wining the Premiership...
- Scoring goals is good; conceding goals is bad.
- Defence is just as important as attack.
- Paolo Maldini was really good.
- 3 goals is usually enough to win the game, unless your defence is rubbish.
- Teams who pass well do better than teams who don't.
- Keeping the ball is good; giving the ball away is bad.
- More shots on target lead to more goals.
- Wealthier teams tend to be more successful.
- Smaller/weaker teams do better when they play to their own strengths instead of their opponents'.
Well consider my mind blown.Read more ›
When you've spotted that many errors so quickly, trust in the authors breaks down and reading this book became an exercise in checking whether each of the analyses was solid. While that is a useful exercise in its own right, this is a Penguin book that is aimed at a wide audience, many of whom may not be able to apply critical skills to the text. That is concerning, and I'll be on the hunt for a better book.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Heavily labours the use of least squares regression fits, but does not really go into any depth. My own thoughts are that a more careful mathematical appreciation of the data... Read morePublished 3 days ago by ESES
A very entertaining read and the numbers really will surprise you. You'll never watch football in the same light again!!Published 3 months ago by John
Some very interesting statistics that disproved common football cliches - perhaps the most striking is the overemphasis placed on corners in the English game. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Tom
It was not very good. The only reason I bought it was that the Author has joined my Football Club Coventry City as CEO. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Roderick J Dean
I wish this book had been written in 1992! If it had I may have done better in GCSE Mathematics and rather than handing in a sub-standard piece of coursework using audience... Read morePublished 9 months ago by Amazon Customer