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Expected Goals: The story of how data conquered football and changed the game forever

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Expected goals describes how Ram Mylvaganam started ProZone, one of the first companies to use video for game encodings. Smith expertly puts together these seemingly disparate vignettes to paint a vivid picture of football’s innate resistance to change, the role “outsiders” played in this revolution, and explain how data has increased the sport’s accessibility. The author is also well read on the subject and does not presuppose he is the first to cover such ground. However, most of the stories just weren’t that engaging, or the ‘pay off’ didn’t justify the journey.

At the end of the day, football is about creating as many chances and conceding as few chances as possible. The glory of football, but also the flaw in it, is that there are so many ways to enjoy it,” Smith says. This book is an excellent insight into not only the power and value of data and information, but an indictment of the incredibly poor, short sighted and incompetent people managing a multi billion dollar business and losing most it, due to poor decisions in recruitment, strategy, tactics and investment.The problem though is there is no central club and character in Oakland and Billy Beane respectively to really make it as effective a book as MoneyBall. The writing itself was fast paced but with the odd 'couple of dozen' Americanisms thrown in as a nod to his main employers, along with introductions I associate most with US journalistic profiles*.

g., Brentford, Midtjylland, RB Salzburg, Liverpool, Arsenal) so I will probably never get the insight I find most interesting without being on the inside of a club. Klopp had an open mind and had some familiarity with data use from the Bundesliga, but Liverpool took it to a new level. We also use them to help detect unauthorized access or activity that violate our terms of service, as well as to analyze site traffic and performance for our own site improvement efforts. Which is to say there are a lot of lessons here that extend beyond the game, but it'll also give you a new appreciation of the analytics side of soccer and make you start demanding more from the broadcast.

Expected Goals is replete with such stories, spanning decades, of people spread across the football pyramid. One area it is easy to see the evolution is through the types of signings we are seeing coming into the Scottish game now with a slew of foreign players being signed presumably off the back of data trends which link in with the type of player being sought who would be available for a fraction of the cost of a Scottish or English counterpart. But that is also part of the Moneyball way of doing things, according to Beane himself; that record-breaking signing makes sense if the data says the value is there, bargain or not. The sort of intro that starts "With his Yoshi figurine on the shelf and his handlebar moustache, X Yman didn't strike you as your typical football coach, and only the odd grey at his temples hinted that he was indeed a grown man. However if I were a manager of a football team, I’d want to have the data than be without it, so yes Rory Smith is correct when it says data has changed the game forever, just maybe not in the way some might expect.

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