‘Soccernomics: Revised and Expanded Second Edition’ is This Month’s Book Club Selection, Join the Discussion!

We’re starting a new feature on EPL Talk — a monthly book club selection where you, the reader, get to discuss a chosen book with fellow readers, as well as to increase your knowledge about the beautiful game and, when possible, chat with the author about the book of the month.

For the first monthly book club selection, we’ve chosen Soccernomics — the revised and expanded second edition.

Some of you may have already read Soccernomics before, which is one of the most well-received modern books about football (it was named best book of the year by The Financial Times). But whether you have or not, be sure to order the new second edition in paperback or on your Kindle (or other book reader).

If you bought the first edition, the new edition contains approximately 25% new content. Each chapter contain new updates. And the book has four additional chapters compared to the first edition.

For the monthly book club, go ahead and read the book and feel free to share any observations, questions or things you find fascinating. Just post them in the comments section below.

The deadline to finish reading the book is the end of this month (January).

Think up some great questions, and we look forward to seeing you online at http://www.epltalk.com/2013/02/05/stefan-szymanski-interview

22 thoughts on “‘Soccernomics: Revised and Expanded Second Edition’ is This Month’s Book Club Selection, Join the Discussion!”

  1. I will definitely be going out to get this book, may even frequent the local Barnes and Noble instead of the usual Amazon. First edition was a great read and I’m eager to see the updates.

  2. Looking forward to it. Not a book about soccer only but a great lesson about sports in general. I will be reading it ASAP.

    Like to say what makes EPL Talk special is things like a book club. As I said before this is the site for the thoughtful soccer fan.

  3. CBS, “60 Minutes” is showing a segment on FC Barcelona and its unique training system tonight.

    The segment is set to air last on the program, so start time will probably be around 7:40pm or so tonight.

    The beautiful game and the best team in the world is getting exposure on national television. Good!

    1. Excellent exposure for the game. I hope it continues to help grow the MLS audience in the US. Soccer is best seen in person still to this day. I can not say that about the NFL.

  4. started myself this morning. Downloading an edition makes thing so easy over waiting to get to the local bookstore. Just the introduction was a great read.

  5. I just read the introduction to the book tonight, which the authors are referring to the book as Soccernomics 2.0. Really enjoyed reading first 8 pages. Can’t wait to read the rest!

    The Gaffer

  6. I tried with this book a couple of years ago and was just deeply unimpressed. But for EPL book club, I will make another attempt :-)

  7. Two new developments that you may find interesting in regards to the topics discussed in the Soccernomics 2.0 book are:

    1) Simon Kuper’s excellent article published yesterday in The Financial Times, which discusses whether Arsene Wenger has gotten it wrong when it comes to the game’s finances. Whether you’re an Arsenal fan or not, it’s a must-read.

    2) One of the stories of the season has been Bradford City’s incredible run in the League Cup. While reading Soccernomics 2.0, a section jumped out at me where it discusses managers who have continually been some of the best in the past 37 years based on their win percentage. One of the men mentioned in the section is Steve Parkin, who is the assistant manager at Bradford. The book discusses how very few people pay attention to managers (and assistant managers) like Steve Parkin, Ronnie Moore, Paul Sturrock and others because so much attention these days – by the media and fans — is focused on how the manager looks and whether they have charisma, rather than looking at the raw statistics of their track record. Too often, if they don’t look the part, they’re rejected by the top flight clubs.

    Let’s hear your thoughts about the book so far (or in relation to the above two thoughts)!

    The Gaffer

  8. I read this and really enjoyed it. I thought it started running in circles a little toward the end as it discussed how various countries do in international soccer.

    For me, the most relevant stuff was the information about the non-relation between net transfer fees and winning and the significant correlation between wages and winning. It makes you think that Arsenal probably did the right thing to pay Theo Walcott. Sure….he may be a *little* overpaid, but this contract covers the prime of his career and the option was to let him go for very little, pay a large transfer fee on a new striker AND pay that striker a large wage……and that’s just to get someone “as good as Theo”.

    One of the weaknesses was that I didn’t think they talked enough about WHY some of these factors affect things. For example, they showed the the total number of international matches played by a country is significant, but they don’t make it clear WHY that is important. My guess is that countries that have played the most matches also probably have the strongest soccer culture…..thus more matches. But maybe it’s something else. Or maybe they’re just reporting what they see in the data rather than give their opinions on it.

    I think the use of stats in soccer is really fascinating. It can’t be the easiest sport to dissect with numbers because it is so fluid, but that doesn’t mean it is impossible. The only thing about the dynamics of the play is that you have to track more variables and that means you need a bigger dataset before you can draw conclusions.

    Thanks for the suggestion!

  9. Questions for the Author: VORP or value over replacement player in roster decision making is sometimes used in American baseball. Could it be applied to football? Obviously, different performance statistics would be used.

    As a followup: What are the limitations in applying ‘sabermetrics’ to football?

  10. There is a smugness in the tone of the writing of this book that I find insufferable. As a result, I’ve found it difficult to get past that long enough to engage with the substance of the authors’ arguments – especially since I don’t think they’re saying anything profound or backing up what they say with any truly solid evidence.
    When you say stuff like “There is growing evidence that sporting talent and academic talent are linked,” you should provide some…evidence. And statements like, “Furthermore, big teams have more fans than small ones” leave me wondering why this book was marketed as being beyond cliches and the obvious.

    That said, the chapter on avoiding mistakes in the transfer market has some interesting observations. In particular, I liked the section about abstaining in the transfer market, even though I think using Barcelona as an example of the wisdom of such a strategy is highly disingenuous (not every club has a Masia to draw players from).

    I still have to finish the book, but a lot of my issues with the first edition remain in this updated version.

    1. That’s a great point about Barcelona. What they do is admirable and is worth copying, but even if you copy it the results are likely to be less.

      It’s like when little cities want to engage in economic development to be like New York or London instead of having more modest goals.

  11. I’ve been reading the book for a couple of days now and I’m really enjoying it. I’m an American and still a relatively new football fan, so I’ve really enjoyed learning more about the culture surrounding the game by reading books like this. I found the chapters on discrimination against blacks and how clubs “phoenix” in and out of administration really interesting. I just finished the chapter on penalty shootouts and I watched the 2008 Champions League final on YouTube as suggested…how cool to watch that with this new insight into the strategies being employed by both sides!!!

  12. Excellent blog on the application of some basic Soccernomics principles set forth in the book as applied to Spurs’ and boss David Levy.

    @TotalTottenham: In case you’ve missed it earlier. A great write up on Levy’s transfer strategy, part 1. http://t.co/Nbw9ygwj #THFC #COYS

  13. Just finished the book, benefited from a “deadline” as I never read fast. Definitely a great read and had a sabermetrics feel to it.

    Being a big NFL fan, I wasn’t convinced by the Football versus Football chapter. Even if both leagues are close in statistical “equality”, I feel like the phrase Any Given Sunday is more applicable to the NFL than the Prem. I feel that the biggest difference between the leagues is the draft and salary cap.

    The draft gives hope to even the worst teams in the league. Look at my team, the Niners, who put together a few good drafts and took their team from bottom dwellers to the Super Bowl. In English football, they’d have been relegated years ago.

    I also think that the salary cap plays a huge role, even if only to continue the illusion of equality. At the end of the day, the Patriots can only spend as much money on player’s salaries as the Jets. The good teams excel at figuring out which players to pay the most. The salary cap makes for a more competitive league and prevents clubs from rising to the top because they can pay players more.

    Anyway, I still think the NFL has an edge on the Premier League but they are obviously completely different. As the authors noted, one is based on small sample sizes and playoffs and the other based on large sample sizes and no playoffs. I appreciate both of them for their differences.

  14. Stefan Szymanski, the co-author of Soccernomics, will answer your questions this Tuesday February 5, 2013 in a live online chat that’s open to readers of EPL Talk.

    As part of EPL Talk’s January book discussion group, the co-author has agreed to come on to EPL Talk to join in the discussion and answer any questions you may have.

    The live online chat is scheduled for Tuesday, February 5 at 8:30pm ET/5:30pm PT.

    All you have to do is show up on the homepage of EPLTalk.com at that time, and then you can join the conversation. When you get a chance, flip through the book and be prepared to ask any questions you have for the author about Soccernomics 2.0.

    The Gaffer

  15. 1.I have always felt that there is a direct co-relation between home video games becoming main-stream in the early to mid 90’s in Western Europe and the dearth of homegrown talent in European football that is being witnessed presently. What do you think ?

    2.Why is it that Indians cannot play football ?

    3. Why is it that people in the middle-east prefer the serie A

    4. Would Israel qualify for the WC if they played in the Asian WC qualifiers as they should be ?

    5. Why is it that we are witnessing a dearth of talent in countries like Brazil where the economy is booming. Does the economic growth inversely affect people taking up football.

    6. Will Messi ever win a WC ?

    7. Why do people say that it is harder to win the CL than to win the WC. Surely this cannot be true. What do you think.

    8. How does football get rid of racism ?

    9. Which countries do you see emerge as dominant forces in football in the coming years.

    10. Who do you think has achieved more……..Jose Mourinho or Sir Alex ferguson

  16. 1. What do you think of the plan to make the CL a 64 team affair.

    2. Why are players motivated to perform for their clubs. Since they keep transfering clubs surely it cannot be allegiance. So is it money. Is money that big a motivator.

    3. Why is it that bookmakers are better at predicting outcome of football matches than the so called football pundits.

    4. What do you think is the right amount of teams for a league……16/18/20/22/24

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