In football, numbers are everywhere. From touches in the opposition box to expected goals, clear-cut chances to win-loss ratios.
In the modern game, these numbers help provide the narrative, the drama, and the conversation. They are scrutinised in order to justify results and to predict future outcomes. They even dictate transfer policy and drive clubs to achieve the impossible.
But when did the numbers become so important and what do they mean?
In Outside the Box, Duncan Alexander looks back at twenty-five years of the Premier League and beyond, uncovering the hidden truths and accepted myths that surround the game. Using the archives of OptaJoe and never-before-seen data, we discover why Liverpool have gone 27 years without winning a league title and why Lionel Messi is the best player in the game’s history. Or is he?
Insightful, wry, and hugely entertaining, Outside the Box is an enlightening and accessible account of football across the decades, analysing data from the some of the greatest seasons, players, teams and managers.
Kane or Vardy?
Pep or José?
Pulis or … anybody else?
Football is a game of opinions. A world where received wisdom and the law of the hunch reign supreme. But football is becoming more intelligent. The history books may say that Leicester City winning the premier league ‘defied logic’, but if you looked more closely, they were always going to win . . .
From distances run to pass success rate, shots on target to corners won, counter-attacks to tackles made, Opta, the world’s leading sports data company, records everything. But what does it all mean? And how can it add to our love of the game?
From the author and statistician behind the popular OptaJoe Twitter account, what follows is a hugely entertaining and insightful guide to football in 2016, analysing data from the world's greatest teams, players, leagues and tournaments.
Stats can never tell us everything, but combining cutting-edge analysis with wry humour, this book debunks countless myths peddled by pundits, managers, and even players. The ideas that follow are both surprising and satisfying, but may also leave you with the feeling that ‘yes, that’s what I was thinking all along’.
Duncan Alexander is the co-founder of the OptaJoe Twitter account, one of Britain’s top football statisticians and commentators who has almost 1m followers. He live tweets during games with his trademark blend of incisive analysis and droll humour. He works for Perform, one of the world's leading digital sports content and media companies.
His first book, OptaJoe’s Football Yearbook was published in 2016.
Follow Duncan on Twitter @OptaJoe and @oilysailor.