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Soccernomics: Why England Loses, Why Spain, Germany, and Brazil Win, and Why the U.S., Japan, Australia--And Even Iraq--Are Destined to Become the Kings of the World's Most Popular Sport Paperback – 22 Apr 2014
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"Many explanations [of England's poor form] can be found in the book Soccernomics in a segment entitled "Why England Loses." (This is well worth a read for any English football fan; essentially, you overvalue your football heritage and undervalue the benefits of innovation.)"
--Stephen J. Dubner, co-author Freakonomics on the Freakonomics blog
--VanityFair.com "The authors take what 'everybody' knows about success and failure in soccer and subject it to rigorous empirical analysis embedded in good stories that carry the narrative along...Highly recommended. All readers."
--Choice "Soccernomics [is] a sharply written and provocative examination of the world's game seen through the prism of economics and statistical data. It demolishes almost everything that most soccer fans believe about the game and how professional soccer teams should operate."
--Globe & Mail (Canada) "Oh, Rooney's the best. [My son] Ben thinks that England might be in the top four, but that's it. He knows the starting line up of every European team. We're reading this very interesting book about football together, you know Soccernomics."
--Lorrie Moore, author of A Gate at the Stairs and Birds of America
"Since the publication of the first edition of Soccernomics there have been several attempts to copy its content. Yet few authors in the world of soccer writing can tell a human story like Simon Kuper, and even fewer academics can write an understandable narrative with numbers like Stefan Szymanski. Together the two men raise the bar again, bringing new insights to an already great body of work that is accessible and interesting to the quant and casual reader alike... I highly recommend you pick it up for yourself, even if you have already read the first edition. You will not be disappointed."
--Zach Slaton, Forbes (online) "[Q]uite an entertaining read."
--Simply Futbol "[W]onderful book."
--Pro Soccer Talk (NBC Sports blog) "Soccernomics... remains essential reading for anyone seeking an analytical take on the game."
--Keeping Score (TIME Soccer Blog) "Soccernomics is the most intelligent book ever written about soccer."
--San Francisco Chronicle
"With Soccernomics, the FT's indispensable Simon Kuper and top-flight sports economist Stefan Szymanski bring scrupulous economic analysis and statistical rigor to a sport long dependent on hoary - and, it seems, unfounded - assumptions...Gripping and essential."
--Slate.com, Best Books of 2009 "[The book] is a sporting tale in the Freakonomics mode of inquiry, using statistics to come up with fascinating conclusions."
--Independent (UK), Best Books of 2009 "[Szymanski and Kuper] entertainingly demolish soccer shibboleths...Well argued and clear headed."
--Financial Times, Best Books of 2009 "Using data analysis, history and psychology, [Soccernomics] punctures dozens of clichés about what it takes to win, and who makes money in soccer - and in sports in general."
--Associated Press "[Kuper and Szymanksi] do for soccer what Moneyball did for baseball--put the game under an analytical microscope using statistics, economics, psychology and intuition to try to transform a dogmatic sport."
--New York Times "[A] must read for any fan of the business of soccer..."
About the Author
Simon Kuper is one of the world's leading writers on soccer. The winner of the William Hill Prize for sports book of the year in Britain, Kuper writes a weekly column for the Financial Times. He lives in Paris, France. Stefan Szymanski is the Stephen J. Galetti Collegiate Professor of Sport Management at the University of Michigan's School of Kinesiology Tim Harford has called him "one of the world's leading sports economists." He lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
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However this book is a cut above the rest, recommended by a chap who wrote an excellent piece about a Moneyball themed Football Manager career. Inspired by this book he wrote the column. And what a recommendation it was!
This will lay down your previous conceptions about football, the myths that football is big business (its not), and lots more interesting things that you weren't aware of - or hadn't looked into.
I cant rate this more highly as the scoring system only goes upto five stars....really a six or ten would justify this.
The authors have used statistical analysis in many areas related to football, such as penalty shots, manager impact, fan loyalty, most football-crazy country and the transfer market. It could have been a rather dry book, but it is not. There are so many interesting observations and conclusions in the chapters, and the writing is top-notch.
I particularly liked the chapter on which city teams have been successful in the European Cup. In it, the authors point out that teams that have been dominating are all from provincial cities, like Manchester, Barcelona, Munich, Marseille and Milan. For the most parts, the capitals have not done so well. As they write: the town of Nottingham still has more trophies – two – than London, Paris, Istanbul, Berlin and Moscow combined. The explanation they offer is that a lot of people moved to industrial towns a century ago, and one thing that united them was football. The capitals on the other hand had many other things to unite them, and did not need football in the same way. This pattern of which cities have the most successful football teams is rather obvious to me once it has been pointed out, yet I never made the connection myself before I read Soccernomics.
I also really liked the chapter on penalty taking. They write about the 2008 Champions League final between Chelsea and Manchester United that was decided on penalties. Chelsea had access to research about which side Van der Sar usually was diving to, depending on if the penalty taker was right-footed or left-footed. In the end, Van der Sar figured out the system Chelsea was using, and saved the last penalty to win the game for Manchester United. There are many more examples in this chapter on the use of statistics for penalty taking, and it is fascinating reading.
The chapter towards the end of the book on the rise of Spanish football was also very interesting. The authors’ thesis on why some countries are more successful in football than others is that the connected-ness and exchange of ideas between countries is the most important factor. Spain is an interesting example. In the 1970s, when Spain became more open, there was a heavy Dutch influence (Johan Cruijff, Rinus Michels) that proved very beneficial for Spanish football. The chapter does a very good tracing and analysing this development.
These were three chapters that stood out for me, but that doesn’t mean the others were bad. I thoroughly enjoyed all of them. My only little quibble is that when analysing the importance of the manager for a team, they concluded that it is quite rare that they have a big impact – team results are mostly determined by the quality of the players, with a few notable exceptions such as Alex Ferguson. But in the chapter on the English national team, they conclude that they have performed better with a foreign manager than with local manager. This seems a bit contradictory to me, but perhaps I misunderstood.
All in all though, a really great book. I have recommended it to everybody I know that is interested in football.
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