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The Numbers Game: Why Everything You Know About Football is Wrong [Kindle Edition]

Chris Anderson , David Sally
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Does the impossible of making the beautiful game even more beautiful (Malcolm Gladwell)

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)


The Numbers Game by Chris Anderson and David Sally reveals football's astonishing hidden rules

Football has always been a numbers game: 4-4-2, the big number 9 and 3 points for a win. But what if up until now we've been focusing on the wrong numbers? What if the numbers that really matter, the ones that hold the key to winning matches, are actually 2.66, 53.4, 50/50, and 0 > 1? What if managers only make a 15% difference? What if Chelsea should have bought Darren Bent?

In this incisive, myth-busting book, Chris Anderson, former goalkeeper turned football statistics guru, and David Sally, former baseball pitcher turned behavioural economist, show that every shred of knowledge we can gather can help us to love football and understand it even more. You'll discover why stopping a goal is more valuable than scoring one, why corners should be taken short, and why it is better to improve your worst player than to buy a superstar.

You'll never play, or watch, a game of football in quite the same way again.

The Numbers Game is essential reading for football fans everywhere and will also appeal to readers who loved Moneyball and Freakonomics.

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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1 von 1 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Sehr gutes Buch über Soccernomics 19. März 2014
Von Jan G.
Format:Taschenbuch|Verifizierter Kauf
Wenn man Fußball analytisch erforschen will ist das für mich das beste Buch, das ich auf dem Markt gefunden habe. Für mich persönlich etwas besser als Soccernomics. Sehr empfehlbar.
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1 von 2 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen Angewandte Fussballmathematik 10. Juli 2014
Von Peer Sylvester TOP 1000 REZENSENT
Format:Taschenbuch|Verifizierter Kauf
Chris Anderson und David Sally sind Statistiker, die mit Fußballstatistiken auch Vereine beraten. Längst ist man über das Credo "Fußball kann man nicht statistisch analysieren" hinweg - Man kann. Es ist nur schwieriger als bei statischeren Sportarten! In diesem Buch gehen die Autoren Fragen nach wie: "Wieviel Glück steckt tatsächlich hinter einem Sieg?", "Wie lassen sich die Chancen verbessern?" oder "Wie viel Einfluß hat der Trainer wirklich?". Aber auch taktische Fragen werden erläutert wie z.B. Ob Ballbesitz wirklich Spiele gewinnt. Die Fragen werden mit sehr viel Sachverstand ausführlich beantwortet und die Lektüre ist jedem zu empfehlen, der ein tiefergehendes Verständnis für Fußball entwickeln will, vorrausgesetzt er hat keine Angst, dass einige eiserne Überzeugungen in Frage gestellt werden. Außerdem ist die Statistik für Laien nicht immer ganz verständlich. Zwar bemühen sich die Autoren auch Begriffe wie "Poisson-Verteilung" zu erläutern, aber Mathematikmuffel werden dennoch keine Freude an den Erklärungen haben.
Ein Kritikpunkt: Aufgrund dem Streben nach Verständlichkeit, haben sich zahlreiche kleinere Ungenauigkeiten und gar ein paar Fehler eingeschlichen, die dem Verständnis nicht gerade förderlich sind. So wird gezeigt, dass die Fähigkeiten in etwa 50% der Partien entscheidend sind und der Rest durch Zufall zustande kam (innerhalb einer Ligasaison). Dann steht da der Satz: Das bedeutet, dass das bessere Team nur in der Hälfte der Fälle gewinnt - und das ist schlicht falsch (eher: 50% Sieg des besseren, 25% Unentschieden, 25% Sieg des Schwächeren Teams). Solche Fehler sind ärgerlich.
Lesen Sie weiter... ›
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5.0 von 5 Sternen Perfect condition 19. Dezember 2014
Von J.L.
Format:Taschenbuch|Verifizierter Kauf
Book arrived in perfect condition. Unfortuneately, my boyfriend already got it as a gift, but we are sure to find someone to give it to in the future.
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Die hilfreichsten Kundenrezensionen auf (beta) 3.9 von 5 Sternen  50 Rezensionen
10 von 10 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Data & Soccer 26. Januar 2014
Von C. Paris - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Kindle Edition|Verifizierter Kauf
I liked both this book and Soccernomics, but I thought this one actually focused better on the game and the impact of data. Soccernomics spent more time than I would have like discusses fans of soccer.
15 von 19 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
3.0 von 5 Sternen Could be better, not as good as Soccernomics 6. September 2013
Von I. Taylor - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Taschenbuch|Verifizierter Kauf
The authors clearly love the game, and love analytics, but they haven't written a great book. I found myself nitpicking their arguments more than agreeing with them, starting with the "Why everything you know about soccer is wrong" subtitle, which they quickly contradict in the introduction with the statement "We will, we expect, challenge some of your assumptions, but we will doubtless support others."

Among the many other contradictory elements are the discussions of the Castrol Player Index which they use to argue for a high correlation between the quality of players within any team: "Great players play with other great players." This is followed four pages later by the statement "...Messi's score arises from his inclusion in the Barcelona subsystem...", suggesting that the Castrol rankings are dependent on the quality of the team and not an independent measure of a player's performance. If team quality influences the ranking, how believable is the initial conclusion about correlation between? In fact, it's still believable, because it matches the many things we know about soccer that isn't wrong.

Finally, I found the Americanization of this edition for sale in the US to be inconsistent and distracting. The word "football" has been excised, even in quotations: "As Ronay write: 'In the early 1990s, [soccer] entered a new era.'" On the other hand they make frequent reference to the book "Why England Loses", which was sold in the US (probably everywhere outside the UK) under the title "Soccernomics".

There are certainly interesting analyses and new ideas here, but my recommendation is to read Soccernomics instead.
59 von 80 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
2.0 von 5 Sternen A sacrifice of objective conclusions for surprising revelations. 16. Juni 2013
Von Miguel Gonzalez - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Kindle Edition|Verifizierter Kauf
As a statistician and soccer fan, I have always been a fan of books that attempt to sift through the data and come to objective conclusions about the reality of the game. Unfortunately, the book's positioning statement (Why Everything You Know About Football is Wrong) appears to have been implemented at the expense of objective conclusions based on that data.
Let me give you a brief example based on certain claims made in Chapter 1.

The authors make the conclusion that half of all games are decided by luck, unfortunately, this conclusion does not follow from its premises.

- The first problem (I admit, this might be a failure to clarify as opposed to making unwarranted conclusion) is that the authors fail to specify how draws work into their analysis. They claim that "a little over half" of all games are won by favorites and that "the likelihood of the underdog winning was 45.2%" while at the same time stating that 1-1 draws are the most common score line. It may just be that the percentages they offer simply do not include game that ended in a draw, however, if this is the case, they did a terrible job communicating this to the reader.

- The authors also failed to eliminate other possible explanations for their data and instead jumped to the one conclusion that might result in the more surprising revelation. Their claim that 50% of games are decided by luck stems primarily from the fact that only about 50% of the game is won by favorites, therefore if skill is not the determining factor in a specific game, it must have been a result of chance. One very possible reason is that even though team A is favored over team B, team A's quality is only slightly better than team B so that even if skill was the determining factor most of the time, in the long run the difference in quality is not enough to break the 50/50 paradigm. In other words, the nature of the game might require a more drastic difference in quality in order for one team to dominate another, but this does not help to establish that a slight favorite losing is simply a result of chance.

- Another problem in their analysis is that they set up a false dichotomy between skill and luck, as if these were the only two contributing factors to the result. This is surprising since they talk about the 48/26/26 rule (48% of game are home wins, 26% ties and 26% losses). Most of the data they collect comes from League games, where every team plays every other team at home and away. Therefore, since 50% of all games are won by the home team and 50% of all home teams are underdogs, it renders the fact that roughly 50% of all games are won by the underdog a lot less surprising.

Examples such are these are scattered throughout the book and it is difficult to know whether these are a result of lack of clarification or intellectual dishonesty.
4 von 4 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Up there with soccernomics 25. Oktober 2013
Von English Guy - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Kindle Edition
This book is up there with soccernomics as a statistical analysis of the game. However, unlike Soccernomics, which delves a lot into the economic backdrop of the game (relation of GDP to world cup performance etc.), this one focuses on the game on the field. How many shots does it take to score one goal on average? How often are goals scored from corner kicks? What is the point value of a clean sheet (on average) or scoring two goals in a game? What is the value of share of possession and how did Stoke City manage to outperform their time of possession? I think some of the claims it makes about the value of statistics are a bit overstated but it is a first class read.
3 von 3 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen More Pluses than Minuses in "The Numbers" 30. August 2014
Von J. Draper - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Taschenbuch|Verifizierter Kauf
On the plus side: "The Numbers Game," to paraphrase Mark Twain, makes a lot of good hamburgers out of sacred cows. Anderson and Sally provide us with much food for thought regarding assumptions about soccer that we may never have questioned before. One great example is the strong evidence they provide that the game's outcome is about half determined by luck. They go a little too far when they say this means soccer is a "coin-toss game," but still, it is a revelation to realize that so much is out of the hands (or off the feet) of the players and coaches. It makes you wonder how much else in sports--and in life--is determined by chance. There's also a connection here to much later in the book, where the authors address the issue of "regression to the mean." Again Anderson and Sally provide us with examples that question how much control coaches and players really have over the game they are trying to influence. It was astounding to learn that in many cases, whether you replace a manager or not can be irrelevant--a team can "regress to the mean" and start improving their play just as much by keeping the manager as by firing him. (The same goes for whether the manager screams at them for losing or calmly explains how they can play better--though the latter, they suggest, is better for morale.) One final point I thought was very important was the evidence the authors provide that money alone does not rule soccer--they prove that there are "plenty of clubs [...] that outperform their salary tab in any given season." This is akin to the argument made about Billy Beane and the Oakland A's in "Moneyball." It's heartening to know that the underdog can still win, any given Sunday, with the appropriate strategy and a bit of luck.

On the minus side: One thing I found a little disappointing about the book was that it didn't really have one or two main heroes to root for like Billy Beane or Bill James in "Moneyball"--in fact the book probably mentioned those two sabermetricians almost as much as any other single soccer statistician, manager or player. I think it would've made the book's narrative more compelling overall if the authors had spent more time getting to know say, Tony Pulis of Stoke, Arrigo Sacchi of AC Milan or less famously, Jimmy Davies of Waterloo Dock AFC. All three men were mentioned as fascinating examples of managerial insight, but were only given a few pages to shine. I suppose we'll have to settle for the pioneering role of Wing Commander Charles Reep for now...
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