Manchester City, champions of England, have launched a fantastic new feature that allows fans free access to advanced player statistics. By registering here, soccer fans will be able to go beyond mere goals scored and into the kind detailed data that clubs guard closely and that is usually only available from companies like Opta at sheik-worthy prices.
The club, in its launch page, believes it is the “…responsibility of those in such a fortunate position to support the analytics community and share what tools, resources and insights that we can in order to accelerate this growth. “ While Man City should be lauded for supporting the free spread of information, it is hopefully just a small step towards full football stat-nerd nirvana.
The internet liberated historical sports data from distant libraries, grainy microfiche, and dusty almanacs and brought a wealth of knowledge to our fingertips. Professional and amateur analysts alike dove into this treasure trove and introduced advanced metrics to the masses. Some traditionalists decry the new stats, insisting that ‘getting stuck in’ is all that matters, but advanced metrics are just another way for people to enjoy what is only a game. Still, football trainspotters look on with envy at what number-crunchers in other sports have access to.
Baseball fans can choose from dozens of quality stats sites. One of the best is Baseball Reference. It’s incredibly thorough and intuitive to navigate. Every player and team in Major League Baseball history is profiled; complete with season-by-season traditional and advanced stats. Want to know how many times Chico Escuela-inspiration Felix Millan struck out for the Mets in 1973? It’s just a couple of clicks away. Want to know how many goals Ian Porterfield scored for Sunderland in their FA Cup-winning year of 1973? Good luck.
Cricket followers have Cricinfo’s powerful Statsguru database. It has every Test scorecard since the first recognized clash between England and Australia in 1877 and detailed statistical profiles of cricketers (including medium-pace bowler Samuel Beckett). For example, with just a couple of clicks, you can pull up a list of every batsman legendary England all-rounder Sir Ian Botham dismissed in his test career. Want to pull up a list of how many goals Alan Shearer scored against, say, Manchester United in his three-club career? Good luck.
Sites like Zonal Marking have brought meaningful tactical analysis to the masses. But there is nothing akin to the comprehensiveness and ease-of-use of Baseball Reference or Statsguru for historical football player season-by-season stats. Statto offers up past tables, Who Scored offers decent data on current players, the BBC only offers cumulative totals as does Soccerbase. ESPNFC has season-by-season data for players but only as far back as 2001. Wikipedia offers basic season-by-season data, but only for players famous enough to merit a page.
History is a large part of football’s appeal. Giving supporters access to more information about the past and present will only strengthen our bond with the game.
Do you have any recommendations of good sites for football statistics? Please share them below.