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on 30 August 2015
I read this a few weeks ago and remain in two minds. In certain parts the book really got me thinking and it is very refreshing to see evidence based analysis of the game challenging the seemingly more plausible anecdotal stories that dominate the game.

However, there was a nagging doubt throughout that some of the analysis was not thought through properly. Comparing football to other sports is all well and good, but they failed to consider fully that there are 3 common results in football (win, draw or lose) as opposed to two (win or lose) in other sports they were comparing too, particularly American sports.

That said, sections about when to make substitutions and the comparison of the worth of scoring vs. conceding (who knew that scoring two scores is worth the same as a clean sheat, hence why some teams focus on defence so much?) were done very well.

That all said, the book tried to make this all sound new, when in reality you suspect there is much similar work happening at top clubs. But it would be refreshing to see a further emergence of this style of analysis in the television pundrity of the game, rather than simply over discussing refereeing decisions.
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on 26 October 2015
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 figures cut from the pages of the Radio Times done something more interesting about football.

I'm not mathematically minded, but Chris Anderson's book is as accessible as it is enjoyable - very!

The Numbers Games is very interesting study of football. Challenging misconceptions of some ideas which are trotted out every football commentaries.

Never thought Tony Pulis, Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola would be in the same sentence as a football positive.

Bought: June 2013.
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on 24 February 2018
Great book. Interesting read and easy to understand. Starting to feel slightly dated though as the examples only go up to c.2014. Could do with an updated re-print, but that’s probably easier said than done given the vast amount of numbers they crunched.
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on 21 June 2013
I loved the whole Moneyball story from the US, and this book does have plenty of interesting insights.
It's time that football used reason and evidence. I think 'gut' feelings in football are as unreliable as in much of the rest of business, sport and life. (We see what we want to see / confirmation bias, etc., etc..)
But... as another reviewer has said, there's a nagging feeling that some of the correlations are the result of other uncontrolled variables.
The authors do make it clear that there isn't one 'best' formula for all teams; that managers must play to their team's strengths. But that feels like an excuse for (for example) Wigan being relegated in spite of the book praising Martinez and his methods there.
Having said all that I enjoyed the book, in particular the analysis of why winning corners isn't much cause for celebration.
So - it's not quite 5 stars. If you think that a bit of intelligence and 'stats', could improve your team - I recommend it.
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on 6 April 2016
A very entertaining read and the numbers really will surprise you. You'll never watch football in the same light again!!
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on 21 February 2015
The first couple of chapters are incredibly hard going, the authors want to convince us that they've got all the answers. They haven't, and in fact they acknowledge this later - they're just another step on the way of statistical analysis of football - and no-one is close to "solving soccer".

That said, when you get past this the book settles into a rhythm and despite some dodgy graphs and some wild leaps painted as obvious conclusions, there is some really interesting stuff in here. It just isn't the all encompassing solution it acts like.

"Soccernomics" and "Pay to play" do the same thing in a less annoying style. Read them first, and come to this if you find yourself wanting more.
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on 28 October 2017
Fascinating read if you’re into statistics and football.
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on 15 August 2014
An excellent book full of surprises! The title is very apt especially for this long time football fan and the conclusions are backed up with very interesting data. Having said that this is not a dry book full of statistics but a fascinating read written in a very approachable style.
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on 9 September 2014
Yes I'm a football fan,but this certainly was a bit of an eye opener.With all the data that is going around in general is was bound to catch up with football eventually,however most of the data is quite a surprise.What football teams do with all this data in the future really could change a lot of things.So if you have ever wondered if football might ever get it's 'Moneyball' moment,then I'd recommend this book.
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on 16 November 2013
There's a lot of information here about the real statistics of football and it's very interesting indeed. Some quite surprising and fascinating. The authors definitely know their stuff. Should be compulsory reading for any prospective football manager although I'd rather it not be picked up by the managers of my team's rivals.
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