10 Things I Read This Month That You Should Too
As May draws to a close, Andrew once again delivers his list of the 10 most interesting articles for the month. It's his 10 things he read this month that you should too.
As we see yet another major tournament decided by a penalty shoot-out, writing for ESPN the Magazine, SportingIntelligence offers a detailed analysis of penalty shoot-outs, tracking every European championship and World Cup from 1976 to 2010. Some great numbers to keep handy as we head to Euro 2012 in Poland and Ukraine.
“The declining success rates of ‘peak age’ players is also notable in the two different eras. In the pre-98 shoot-outs there was hardly any difference in success depending on age cohort, with players aged 18-24 scoring 79 per cent of kicks, and players aged 25-30 and 31-plus scoring 80 per cent. But in the post-98 period, the success rate of players aged 25-30 has plummeted to 58 per cent.”
So much drama surrounding Covers.com in recent months. First there was the Jack Zito 'oversight'. Then the Sarah Phillips scam. Writing for Deadspin, the guys from BeyondtheBets take a look at the dark underbelly of the betting world – the tout industry - a world where betting tips are sold for hundreds of dollars and seasonal subscriptions can run into the thousands, a world where perception is indeed far more valuable than the ability to pick a winner.
“What sports-gambling touts don't want anyone to know is that the job isn't really about making winning selections or possessing a strong knowledge of sports. The picks don't matter. It's all about how you package them.”
With the 20th season of the Premier League in the books, The Two Unfortunates take a look at the future of the top flight and the English Football League. Offering some interesting proposals, they ask the question – How can the Premier League maintain its position and claim as the 'best league in the world' in the next 20 years?
“If it sounds harsh on those clubs who habitually hover in that no man’s land of the Premier League table, no serious aspirations of European qualification but just out of danger, then why not try four Football League divisions of 20 clubs each and a Premier League of 12?”
On the Negative Dunkalectics blog, David Hill takes a look at the life of professional NBA bettor Haralabos Voulgaris whose elaborate and sophisticated approach to handicapping has made him one of the most influential men in the betting world. An intriguing insight into the mind and method of a truly unique talent in an industry often prone to the worship of false prophets.
“What Voulgaris does is different. He simulates the outcomes based on the data in his database using his own model of what teams will do given particular match-ups. Both his model and his database is extremely valuable. He has spent millions of dollars and countless hours developing it, more than most NBA franchises have spent on analytics. And he has seen many millions in returns because of it.”
Some interesting reading from the guys at Soccer By The Numbers as they discuss the 2D:4D index-ring finger ratio. What am I on about? Well, the 2D:4D digit ratio is the length from the crease where the finger connects the palm to the very tip of the finger and apparently this unique ratio is an indicator of your potential as an athlete. Some intriguing numbers and research will have you reaching for the tape measure.
“Among the physical characteristics that have been linked to the 2D:4D ratio is prenatal exposure to testosterone, which promotes growth of the right hemisphere of the brain. And luckily for athletes (or traffic police), that part of the brain facilitates visuospatial ability – the brain’s capacity to process its surroundings.”
Mark Taylor on the Power Of Goals blog, takes a look at Liverpool's season and considers their unusually high rate for hitting the woodwork in season 2011/2012. It was a well worn and circulated 'stat' that had each of Liverpool's unfortunate meetings with woodwork counted as goals, the club would been far from mid-table and actually have competed earnestly for a Champions League spot. Instead, Taylor points out why this conclusion is a touch too simplistic.
“Although 33 strikes appears as though it should have a major effect on a team's final points tally,the raw numbers fail to identify that some games contained multiple hits and some even led instantly to goals.”
Post their final-day last-minute breathless Premier League escape act, the claim that Manchester City 'bought' their title was one claim well traded amongst pundits and fans alike. Writing for Forbes, Zach Slaton of A Beautiful Numbers Game blog takes a look at Manchester City's Premier League title and the finances behind their sudden surge to the top of the English elite.
“Chelsea and Manchester City are built upon a foundation of money not found within the normal economic means of a soccer club. These two teams are funded by owners who are rich due to their activities outside of soccer, and other than meeting UEFA’s financial fair play rules seem to have little care for running a break even operation.”
The guys from The Football Project take a look back and hand out their tactical awards for football season 2011/2012. Who was the Most Tactically Improved Team? How about Formation Switch of The Season? Or Imminent Trend of the Season? This great read will give you plenty to debate and consider as we approach season 2012/2013.
“Juventus’ undefeated record in the league and appearance in the Coppa Italia final is testament to the motivational, management and tactical abilities of Conte, and it’s made all the more incredible when you remember his only previous experience had been in winning promotion with Siena and Bari from Serie B.”
Amit Singh at ThinkFootball considers the role of the 'Support Striker', taking a close look at the likes of Ronaldo, Messi, Van Persie, Aguero, Ibrahimovic and Rooney. Singh considers each player's key statistics such as goals, assists , dribbles, passes as well as key passes while also making a Heat Map data comparison between Van Persie and Mario Gomez.
“The emphasis on strikers to do more than just score now is most evident with players such as these, who I’d argue represent the future for World class forwards. These players both score goals and create, dropping deep when required to help out their midfield in central as well as wide positions and getting into the six yard box to score ‘strikers’ goals when required.”
On A Football Report, Max Grieve takes to task those who would be too eager to dismiss Chelsea's dour and unlikely Champions League title . An unpopular victory amongst football purists, the result provoked that most unflattering of accusations, that of being a perversion of the spirit of the game – Anti-Football. Was Chelsea's victory such a perversion or was it a stoic victory by any means necessary well within the rules and spirit of the sport?