The Suarez Conundrum

Image from
Image from
Liverpool have an issue this summer, and that issue is whether or not to sell Luis Suarez.  Every other decision they make about player personnel is secondary, partly because of the amount of money involved, and partly because of the impact Suarez has on the entire team when he’s on the pitch. Before addressing the question of whether Liverpool should sell directly, I want to take a look at Suarez’s production. Fans on Twitter have been comparing him to Falcao, Cavani, Ibrahimovic, and Lewandowski as one of the world’s best forwards. Despite this year’s goal tally, I find myself sceptical of those comparisons, but was happy to look at the data and see what it had to say. Continue reading "The Suarez Conundrum"

Transfer Dossiers - Payet, Mollo, Cabella, and Feret

SS Moneyball2 Yesterday’s piece about actual Moneyball and translating certain elements to football was extremely well-received. It also helps explain one of the key stats I’ll be looking at when fishing for potentially undervalued attackers for the next week or two. Today, we turn our attention to France. Ligue 1 likely has the lowest talent level on the whole of the big 5 leagues, but obviously there are plenty of players there waiting to be found, both in the form of value prospects as well as interesting statistical anomalies. We’ll start with one of the best attacking midfielders in Europe this season. Continue reading "Transfer Dossiers - Payet, Mollo, Cabella, and Feret"

Walking It In to the Net

Mesut Ozil - the Greek, er... German God of Assists.
Mesut Ozil - the Greek, er... German God of Assists.
One of the key tenets of teambuilding philosophy in the modern age is this: Find traits that are undervalued in the marketplace that also lead to wins. Buy those players as cheaply as possible, put them in a system that works, and hopefully it will lead to a title. Billy Beane did this with the Oakland A’s by emphasizing walks and power at the cost of defense and athleticism. Getting on base – however you do it – equates to runs. They just found guys who got on base in unflashy ways (via boring old walks), plugged them into the lineup, and let statistics do their work. Assists are the game of football’s walks. Continue reading "Walking It In to the Net"

Let’s Play the Value Game – World Class Forwards

In today’s article, you are cast in the role of Director of Football or Manager of your favourite football club. Your mission - should you choose to accept it - is to pick the player that represents the best value to you and your club.

Finding Value

The meaning of the word “value” in this case is decidedly squishy. You have a large, but finite budget, and anything you spend on this player takes away from what you could spend on other positions of need at the club. Stuff you care about when considering value:

  • Money spent (obviously), both on transfer fee and on wages.
  • Statistical performance. Mostly goals and assists for forwards.
  • Resale value.
  • Potential length of service.
  • Big name impact. This translates to immediate shirt sales. On the other hand, if the player succeeds, shirt sales will bear fruit in the long run.

Now, there’s a lot of noise in football.  Players have reputations one way or another. Some are head cases and hard to work with, others are amazing leaders and team players. Additionally, some players are easily adaptable to whatever style a manager wants to play, while others tend to be best in very specific systems. All of this makes analysis of which player to buy hard.

What we’re going to do today is strip out the noise and just focus on the production of a group of forwards over the last two seasons. Continue reading "Let’s Play the Value Game – World Class Forwards"

Transfer Dossiers - Kiyotake, Gonzalo Castro, Aaron Hunt

The tale of a fateful ship...
The tale of a fateful ship...
Today is day one of my project to use player statistics to project and analyse underappreciated talents in football. I’ve already written about Max Kruse, a player whose Bundesliga stats this season are not dissimilar to Luka Modric and Juan Mata, and who Gladbach bought in April for £2.25M. I’m going to continue looking at talents across Europe most people probably aren’t familiar with, and see if we can find some attacking talents that would make good signings for Premier League or even Champions’ League clubs this summer. Today’s trawling starts in Germany, but first… Continue reading "Transfer Dossiers - Kiyotake, Gonzalo Castro, Aaron Hunt"

Opening the Door to Player Analytics in Football or The Max Kruse Problem

Scene: The board room of one of the top football clubs in England. The club Owner and Director of Football are sitting down to do an end of season recap. The director's assistant knocks on the door. PA: Excuse me sir, there’s a package for you. It’s marked urgent. DoF: Thank you, Anne. The director opens the package. It contains a photo and four pieces of paper. Owner: Who’s that in the photo? DoF: Some guy named Max Kruse. Continue reading "Opening the Door to Player Analytics in Football or The Max Kruse Problem"