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Football Hackers The Science and Art of a Data Revolution By Christoph Biermann

Release date: 08th June, 2019
Publisher: Blink Publishing

List Price: 10.99
Our Price: 9.52
You Save: 1.47 (13%)
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Rarely does a discussion regarding the competence of on-screen football ‘analysts’ conclude that the nonsense fans must listen to in between, or during games, is absolute tosh.

For years, broadcasters have employed hundreds of ex-footballers to tell us that the winger got the ball, beat his man, crossed and there was the centre forward to nod home. We’ve been subjected to this rubbish since the 1960s.

Very, very few ‘analysts’ are capable of explaining the how and why, the moves and strategies that pre-empt a successful strike on goal.

One honourable exception to this is former Luton Town manager David Pleat, though he appears only occasionally now on 5Live. Unfortunately, most ex-players forget how these moves were drummed into them for hours on the training pitch and instead regurgitate the same old rubbish when sat in the hot seat on Sky or Match of the Day.

If you’re a fan who thinks along similar lines, you must read Football Hackers by Christoph Biermann, a book it’s easy to fall in love with when you see that one chapter is titled Why Opinions are Annoying.

Biermann, a former editor of a music magazine who once recorded a 7-inch single in honour of his favourite football team (Vfl Bochum), has written a brilliant, thought-provoking book which details how much further football’s burgeoning data revolution can go.

In his introduction, Raphael Honigstein describes it as being about “…codes, algorithms and statistical models, but ultimately, it is really about love.”

Biermann’s idea for a book which combines this love with authentic statistical analysis was conceived when he watched the Champions League final between Manchester United and Barcelona. The Spanish side won 3-1, but, as Biermann noted, it could have been many more. He was quick to identify the roots of their uber-effective tactics that night as being first taught under the guise of Total Football by Johann Cruyff at Ajax in the 1970s.

The idea has blossomed into an outstanding read which succeeds in highlighting just how much further authoritative, data-based football analysis can develop and the benefits managers and coaches can derive from it. Let’s hope the producers at Sky Sports and MoTD read it too.

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