Liverpool’s biggest contribution: The Myth of Moneyball

Liverpool’s owners, die hard practitioners of Moneyball, pride themselves on the rigorous behind the numbers, value for money purchases that give them a leg up in the MLB. Entering the cash on steroids environment of the Premiership, they recruited Damien Comolli on the advice of Billy Beane, Mr Moneyball himself and ended up throwing £120m on transfers. Why no one knows? Hubris? Keeping up with the Abramovich? Beane himself predicted that Liverpool would be reaping the benefits of his philosophy.
A year later, Andy Carroll, a misfit in Brendan Rodgers mobility upgrade has been loaned to West Ham for £1.5m, a disgraced Charlie Adam departs for Stoke on £4m, Jordan Henderson was offered as bait for Clint Dempsey, and Stewart Downing’s future depends on him playing a different role. Damien Comolli is fired and in the end FSG could not find £6m to fund Dempsey which if you’re a Moneyball adherent is all the proof you need that the owners just failed miserably in transferring those principles to football. Can you say spectacular failure? In their own backyard, the Boston Red Sox, having their worst season in 20 years.
Everyone uses stat based predictors of sporting success and the best predictor season in and season out is clubs who splash the cash to get top level talent are the ones most likely to win a title. In a perverse way, it should have worked for Liverpool spending all that money but it did not because they identified players of questionable talent. In soccer where the stat is as ordinate as a single goal there are fewer grayer areas to work with. Sides who score first are most likely to win 80% of the times, unless you come up against RVP who Utd paid £24m for and is a scoring genius. Read Soccernomics.

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