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Business Intelligence

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  • 21 Feb 2019

    Is the smart money on Solskjaer?

    Manchester United will have a big decision to make in the summer, and they might be able to find help from an unusual source: the betting markets.

    The odds of Premier League matches are akin to a financial market, with the smartest and well-funded professional gamblers using all the available information to predict the likelihood of […]

  • 14 Feb 2019

    Too early to buy?

    As the transfer market becomes increasingly efficient, clubs have moved to buying younger and younger players. The quest for transfer success has led to what is effectively an informational arms race between the top clubs, who have invested heavily in worldwide scouting operations and cutting-edge quantitative analysis teams, all in order to identify the best […]

  • 12 Dec 2018

    Performance 101

    Smart clubs know that results do not always reflect performance, and that in turn teams that are performing well will over time get better results than those that are performing badly – regardless of recent results.

    The question is how we measure performance. Managers often speak about ‘creating the better chances’ in post-match interviews following […]

  • 08 Nov 2018

    No shame in 2nd

    Wherever you look in Europe, there are newly-promoted teams who are impressing in the highest division. In England, Wolves already look set to challenge for a top-half finish. The Austrian Bundesliga has been lit up by TSV Hartberg’s enterprising approach in their first-ever top-flight season. And in Norway, Ranheim are sixth having been as high […]

  • 01 Nov 2018

    The body count

    If you can’t count what’s important, you make what you can count important
    In Ken Burns and Lynn Novick’s epic 10-part, 17-hour Vietnam War documentary series, retired army officer James Willbank succinctly summed up the approach senior officials took to measuring the success of military operations. By body count, the US were winning the war, and […]

  • 04 Oct 2018

    Caught offside

    In the midst of a season, it can be hard to think about our club’s strategy in the context of a changing sport. Saturday’s result, somewhat understandably, is the priority.

    Nevertheless, developments like FIFA’s transfer market reforms help bring into focus how we as a club over the coming years should be strategising on areas such […]

  • 20 Sep 2018

    Corpses on Everest

    There is an internet meme which simply reads: “Every corpse on Mount Everest was once an extremely motivated person”.

    While parodying motivational posters, it is also – probably unintentionally – an insight into the fallacy of analysing success. An analysis of people who successfully scaled Mount Everest, for example, might reveal a list of common […]

  • 07 Sep 2018

    Apples with caviar

    How do we know that we’re doing a good job?

    Talk to most CEOs in listed companies and they will tell you that the company’s share price is the ultimate barometer of their performance. Business strategy is therefore often in service to the share price as it provides the clearest and quickest affirmation of success.

    Our equivalent in […]

  • 23 Aug 2018

    Old dog, new tricks

    Thomas Kuhn, in his book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions suggests that new ideas, regardless of the strength of evidence that underpins them, are only adopted once they are no longer considered ‘new’. He argues that this requires a change, not in how the ideas are viewed, but in who is viewing them.

    It is […]

  • 14 Jun 2018

    How to forecast the World Cup

    Predicting the outcome of the World Cup is difficult. There aren’t that many international matches, and the squads are constantly changing anyway. At 21st Club, we have two different approaches for forecasting international competitions.

    Our League of Nations model incorporates results from national team matches, including tournaments, qualifiers and friendlies, to estimate how good every national […]