Net Gains: Inside the Beautiful Game’s Analytics Revolution takes readers on a tour across the world and throughout soccer history, introducing the many people who have attempted to shine a light onto and innovate a sport that, in many ways, is still stuck in the Dark Ages. This deep dive into the rise of analytics in soccer—a sport where tradition reigns supreme—shows how revolutionary tactics and underexplored metrics are breaking the beautiful game wide open.
By exploring how massive institutions built on billions of dollars can function for so long without any kind of introspection—and what happens when people from the outside attempt to question the status quo—author Ryan O'Hanlon, staff writer at ESPN, shows how time and again experts, managers, coaches, players, and fans feel they know the best approach for any given team or player, and yet get undermined by the complexity of the game—and human behavior.
To tell this globe-trekking story, O'Hanlon takes readers inside the front offices and analytics departments of the top professional leagues’ most cutting-edge clubs and profiles a misfit cast of number-crunchers, behavioral economists, tech insiders, and managers all working to move beyond the philosophical side of soccer and uncover the hard truths behind possession, goals, and developing talent.
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About the Author
Table of Contents
Chapter 1 The Challenge of Big Data 13
Chapter 2 Dunks Only 41
Chapter 3 Mythical Finishing 61
Chapter 4 The Money Way 69
Chapter 5 A Passing Fad 93
Chapter 6 Set Pieces 117
Chapter 7 Big Ted 141
Chapter 8 The Middle Field 173
Chapter 9 The Modern Manager 207
Chapter 10 Post-Moneyball 227