Really fascinating piece by Simon Kuper in the Financial Times. So many tidbits. Here’s one I was gratified to read:
[Barcelona coach Valverde says,] “This is a continuous sport in which the coach has barely any influence. […] Football belongs to the players. For 45 minutes at a time, non-stop, the player takes his own decisions. I have to say that the great players analyse the game better than I do.”https://www.ft.com/content/908752aa-3a1b-11e9-b72b-2c7f526ca5d0
The first statistics that became widely available, from the 1990s, were the easiest ones to measure: number of passes, tackles, shots etc. These “event data” — measures of what a player does on the ball — are still often shown on TV. However, the average player has the ball for only about two minutes a game. The main question of football may be how he positions himself in the other 88 minutes. Is he controlling crucial spaces and creating space for teammates?ibid
Once again, the link is here. FT.com allows free reading if you give your email.