From time to time I’ll get asked if there are any books that I would recommend for someone with an interest in football analytics. Invariably I’ll suggest the same titles, so it seemed like a logical step to set up a page for these recommendations. Some quick points:
- Virtually none of these books will be new to readers of this blog or anyone immersed in football analytics – they are here as a starting point…
- … but if you are reading any of these books for the first time, don’t treat them as analytics/statistical bibles. After all, a big part of analytics is challenging what you read or hear.
- The books are sorted in no particular order.
- Some of these books I finished reading a while ago, so my memory of specifics may be a touch vague.
- Feel free to make more recommendations in the comments.
Above all, hopefully this list is of some use to budding analysts or those with a growing interest in (football/sports) analytics.
It’s easy to be cynical about the book whose title is often used in reference to the growth of football analytics in the past decade. It’s also very easy to forget – particularly in the wake of its excellent Hollywood adaptation – that the story of the Oakland A’s statistical revolution is a fascinating and brilliant read. There are, of course, parallels to football – both in application of analytics and the culture surrounding the sport – and hopefully in years to come the phrase ‘Moneyball’ won’t have the same cringe factor that is sometimes has when associated with football today.
Books like the Numbers Game are crucial to football analytics’ movement towards the sport’s mainstream conversation. Anderson and Sally make a good start on testing a number of the myths and theories that form part of this conversation, and similarly begin to educate fans as to why football is different to every other sport.
The original football analytics book (to my knowledge). Kuper and Szymanski take a much more macro perspective on the game than The Numbers Game, looking at topics such as the transfer market, football as a business and football as part of the economy. Also has some good sections on football and social factors/structures.
(List in construction)