However, this is not a failure for analytics. It’s not proof that the reliance on data has gone too far. The relationship between science and tradition need not be inherently antagonistic. Instead, it is best understood as a case of advances in analytics that help refine the game’s traditional reading.
Yes, sometimes it pays to shoot from a distance, but only from certain areas, in certain situations and at certain times. You and I may have ideas about when these circumstances might arise, but only by using data can we be sure that they are correct. Analytics is there to deepen our understanding of the game, not to counter it.
As was to be expected, the book recommendations have been received in the last few days. “The Miracle of Castel Di Sangro”, “The Glory Game”, “How Football Explains the World” and “Soccernomics” received several recommendations, all of which I support.
Some of you have also nominated Fever Pitch, which I think is very good. Its influence certainly makes it worth your time. However, I cannot personally vouch for it: horrifyingly, I never read it. Or seen the movie. In general, I try to avoid reliving uncomfortable childhood memories and the one who focuses on Michael Thomas’ most notable contribution to English football history is at the top of that list.
Roland Mascarenhasmeanwhile asked whether the reader who started this conversation – Alexander Da Silva – – would be willing to consider expanding the book group beyond the circle of friends he presumably wanted to think about. If others want to join in, I am happy to pass it on to Alexander and see if you meet his undoubtedly demanding criteria.
(That’s risky, isn’t it? It ends with me, Alexander and Roland, answering questions in front of a Senate special committee about how we use people’s data and whether we accidentally became a vector for the breakdown of democracy . And all because Roland didn’t just buy my book the way he should have.)
Rachel Block asked if last week’s column too easily dispensed with the idea that Chelsea could beat Real Madrid in the Champions League semi-finals. Possibly but not on purpose: it was just an attempt to say that it’s hard to believe that Real could take Chelsea off. Anyway, hopefully this has been fixed this week.