“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 favorite team or player, and the way you watch the beautiful game.” – Billy Beane, Manager of the Oakland A’s and subject of Moneyball
"I learned a lot, and it's hard not to applaud a project that is bent on the disenchantment of football's internal conversations and archaic practices, while simultaneously acknowledging an ineradicable core of the unpredictable and random at its heart." - David Goldblatt, author of The Ball Is Round: A Global History of Soccer for the Times Literary Supplement
“…North American soccer fans would do very well to pick up this book. It will not only help them understand the game better, but it will also stimulate new ways to analyze and think about the game.” – Forbes
“[This] is the book that could change the game forever.” – The Times (London)
“By any standards, this is a landmark book, scrupulously researched and bound to be influential.” – Booklist (starred review)
“Witty and thoughtful…should appeal not just to soccer fans, but to readers of Malcolm Gladwell and Freakonomics.” – Kirkus Reviews
"Their rather innovative and revolutionary way of looking at the game makes for fascinating reading." - The Library Journal
“A highly original contribution to our understanding of what we are seeing at a match, their book is unbeatable” – The Independent on Sunday
“Pundits, armchair fans and professionals, will find that several of their long-cherished truisms are not true at all.” – The Guardian
“Superb” – GQ
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.