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Why England Lose: And other curious phenomena explained Paperback – 29 Apr 2010
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'Why England Lose is an Arsène Wenger of a book - more thoughtful than most of its rivals and, by football standards, positively intellectual.' The Times
'It is rare, even after the great leaps football literature has taken in the past two decades, to find a book that takes the breath away, but Why England Lose does. Every page engages, entertains and challenges the lazy assumptions that still dominate football, not merely in its punditry, but all too often in the way that clubs are run.' FourFourTwo
About the Author
Simon Kuper's first book, Football Against the Enemy, won the 1994 William Hill Sports Book of the Year prize and is widely acknowledged as one of football's seminal books. Simon writes a weekly sports column in the Financial Times and has previously written football columns for The Times and The Observer. Stefan Szymanski is Professor of Economics and MBA Dean at Cass Business School in London. Stefan has a global reputation and has acted as a consultant to government and to major sports organisations such as the FIA (motor sport), UEFA (football) and the ICC (cricket).
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
I won't spoil the fun, but if you ever wondered WHY England lose, WHY Real Madrid buy galacticos (and its not because they want to win the league) and exactly how MUCH difference a manager makes, then you should buy this book.
Despite having finished it, this tome retains pride of place next to the bog for essential peaceful reading.
I'll give just a couple of examples - there's a whole chapter on European Cup Winners that raises an interesting point that the main metropolitan areas of Europe can't offer a single European Cup/Champions League winner between them, and then uses some highly selective interpretation of data to predict that London will soon be winning them all the time. Doesn't include the success of Real Madrid or Ajax by the way. More annoyingly, there's an interesting chapter on football being boring or interesting if the same sides dominate. It reaches the point that it's interesting. So it ignores Celtic and Rangers in Scotland, or the big 3 in Portugal, and instead draws conclusions from crowd levels in England in two selected periods.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The book leaves no stone unturned, no question re. 'the game' unanswered. It appears as if England will never win a major tourrnament again for all the reasons given.Published 4 months ago by Ursula Child
The book is really interesting and explained very well many situations in the world of football. The only bad thing is that it is not updated and in six years the world of football... Read morePublished 14 months ago by Fiorella
If you like football ("soccer"), you'll love this book! Using data and statistical analysis, the authors explain why England lose (and in fact have still been doing better... Read morePublished 19 months ago by Dr Dombo
Two types of books seem to have seriously escalated in popularity over the last few years. The first type is the footballer’s biographies, which can range from the excellent to the... Read morePublished 23 months ago by Mr. Iain R. Wear
A far better book than Inverting the Pyramid, this is as close to being the "moneyball" of football I've come across.Published on 31 July 2014 by sam_acw
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
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 morePublished on 12 May 2013 by Tom in Malvern