Sporting Book Reviews

Football Hackers- The Science and Art of a Data Revolution by Christopher Biermann

For anybody looking to get into football analytics, this book provides a great basis of information. An opportunity to read and understand the basics of Expected Goals (xG), Packing, Dangerousity and Ghosting. Great for the average football fan to learn a bit more about the game and the data around it.

A lot of references to Brentford FC and the way in which the club uses data to be successful on the field.

Can be purchased here  

Rebel Ideas: The Power of Diverse Thinking by Matthew Syed

A great book on making bigger picture decisions, progressing and improving both yourself and your organisation. An incredible book by a fantastic author. Great stories of the Football Association and other organisations that use a collection of minds from different background to make a difference. A lesson in diversity.

Can be purchased here

Leading: Lessons in Leadership from the legendary Manchester United Manager by Michael Moritz

A fantastic way of finding out about the times of Sir Alex Ferguson as manager of Manchester United. Full of great stories to back up his beliefs and values. Fantastic for anyone in management in sport or any other organisation.

Can be purchased here

The Gold Mine Effect: Cracking the Secrets of High Performance by Rasmus Ankerson

Enjoyable read about discovering talent why talent is born in the places that it is. The author commits time to living in countries such as Jamaica in which have produced talented athletes to discover why this has happened and keeps occurring. Great for any coach or anyone in a recruitment role to give a different perspective.

Can be purchased here

Soccernomics: Why England Lose, Why Germany, Spain and France Win, and Why One Day The Rest of the World will Finally Catch Up

One of my first influences in football analysis and directed me to my dissertation topic. For the average football fan, it gives a real introduction to the numbers and data side of football. A lot of the business side of football rather than on-pitch data but it certainly sparked my interest in the field of analytics and led to working in the professional game.

Can be purchased here

Pep Confidential: Inside Guardiola's First Season at Bayern Munich by Martí Perarneu

An incredible insight into day to day management of a team, but much more than that, the insight of how Pep Guardiola, one of the most successful managers ever changes a football philosophy in his player. A lot of interesting detail about his chats with players, coaching style and how he changed the way in which they train to be able to make the beautiful football that we have seen from his teams. A must read for any football coach, analyst or fan.

Can be purchased here

Pep Guardiola: The Evolution by Martí Perarneu

The follow on from Pep Confidential as the full three years at Bayern Munich are summarised as Guardiola looks to Manchester City as he aims to recreate his past success. Great tactical explanations and mentions of big games from Martí Perarneu, a man that spent three years with Guardiola, speaking to him and understanding his values and football beliefs.

Can be purchased here

Black Box Thinking: Marginal Gains and the Secrets of High Performance by Matthew Syed

Setting a a mindset of continual improvement, this fantastic read from Matthew Syed give some great stories of times in history that innovation has been needed. Some fascinating stories that run throughout the book as perfect examples. For anyone is sport or business to help create a growth mindset, encourages looking for answers rather than attributing blame.

Can be purchased here

Johan Cruyff: My Turn

Opinions on all things football from the player that turned coach and player/coach developer. His opinions on player development, player unions and life as a Technical Director of one of the biggest clubs in world football. His views inspired many coaches including Pep Guardiola and he explains where those views originated.

Can be purchased here

The Chimp Paradox: The Mind Management Programme to Help You Achieve Success, Confidence and Happiness: The Acclaimed Mind Management Programme to Help You Achieve Success, Confidence and Happiness by Dr Steve Peters

Great to help gain perspective in life, control your emotions and be able to perform better in stressful situations. Works on the theory of 'controlling the chimp' within. Well worth a read to help understand how the human brain works and what we can do to control our reactions to emotional events.

Can be purchased here

The Number Game: Why Everything You Know About Football Is Wrong by Chris Anderson and David Sally

Describing the role of luck in football from a statistics perspective, a great insight into the on-the-pitch data that effects a match. This includes when to make substitutions and why a team should go for more goals rather than trying to hold a lead or play for a draw. A pragmatic view on football.

Can be purchased here

Beating the Odds: The hidden mathematics of sport by Rob Eastaway and John Haigh

Real entry level statistics in sport, explaining why true randomness is very difficult to achieve and why a rugby ball is rarely passed backwards. A good short read to get you thinking about data in sports.

Can be purchased here

Andrea Pirlo: I think therefore I play

The title alone describes a lot about this great player. The book is a great opportunity for coaches and fans to gain an insight into the view of a top professional from his views on football philosophy to his views on sport science. A fairly short read but an enjoyable one.

Can be purchased here

Barca: The Making of the Greatest Team in the World by Graham Hunter

For me, the greatest team ever and watching their Champions League campaign in 2009 made me really understand football. This book is fantastic for the history of the club and the route that the players and team, led by Head Coach Pep Guardiola, took to become that incredible team. From the sales of big name players to promoting youth players that had almost been sold, the path taken was not an easy one. Thoroughly enjoyable book written by a man that watched and research as the process of building the team took place.

Can be purchased here

I am Zlatan Ibrahimovic

The thoughts of a man and player with total belief in his abilities. This is the story of his childhood, how he arrived in football and the sacrifices that he had to make to be the best. Confidence that verges and maybe oversteps the line into arrogance, this is a man that has seen it all and constantly proves his abilities. This book gives an open and honest account of the big events during his career.

Can be purchased here

Bounce: The Myth of Talent and the Power or Practice by Matthew Syed

A great read about the importance of practice, covering multiple sports and arts, discovering what it is that makes people successful. Matthew Syed draws on his own experience to prove the theory as well as the experiences and success of others.

Can be purchased here

Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

Incredibly thought provoking book. Constant nuggets of information that pose many important questions about why we as humans make certain (bad) decisions continually. This is a great read and will need several sittings to take in all of the information. Well worth a read for anyone working in business or human motivation. 

Can be purchased here

Wisdom of Crowds by James Sureicki

"With most things, the average is mediocrity. With decision making, it's often excellence." In this book, Surowiecki uses studies and historical examples to show how, under the right conditions, groups are incredibly smart at solving problems. By aggregating opinions from a diverse group of people, crowds are able to come up with an intelligent solution to nearly any problem, from predicting the correct weight of an ox to finding a lost submarine. The wisdom of crowds method is used by Olympique Lyon when choosing which players to buy and it can also explain why Liverpool decided to add a particle physicist to their analytics team.

Review by Joseph Pelletier

Can be purchased here

Mastering the Premier League: The Tactical Concepts behind Pep Guardiola's Manchester City by Lee Scott

A really insightful book based on the variety of tactics by Pep’s Man City team. Interesting player role analysis and use of good visual pitch maps.

Review by Miles Dobson

Can be purchased here

The Expected Goals Philosophy: A Game-Changing Way of Analysing Football by James Tippett

A fantastic book based on the xG theory and the development of the statistic used in football. Also, there was a fascinating insight into Brentford’s owner, Matthew Benham, which urged me to want to know more about the recruitment analysts at the club.

Review by Miles Dobson

Can be purchased here

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