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September 13, 2015



Meanwhile the economists have modelled Giroud (and all other footballers) as 3d squares that can all run at the same speed, are all the same height, all never cheat, all can run indefinitely. Both managers are tactically perfect and the game is fully deterministic. As both sides have the same boxes each game is a draw.

In 2008 I heard a couple of over-confident economists talking on Radio 4 about how they could improve any football team by applying the methods of high-finance. This was after the start of the credit crunch but before these numskulls had realised their world was a lie. I remember thinking, as they told the presenter that Ferguson was good but that they could do better, "thank god you guys are about to go off a cliff".

Happy to say I've not heard from them since.


"Bayesian conservatism"? The conservatism cognitive bias - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conservatism_(belief_revision) - is a /departure/ from "Bayesianity"!


Ā«call this reputation miningĀ»

That is just a special case of the notion of asset stripping, or liquidating capital into profits.

Which are themselves manifestations of the Blissex Second Law :-), that all non-trivial frauds are variants of hidden under-depreciation of assets.

In this case the asset being under-depreciated is the reputation of the organization.


As a bowler of straight breaks, I much appreciated the Shane Warne "slider" link.

Dave Timoney

Your example of Giroud rests on the assumption that good footballers are good at one thing, scoring goals, whereas they tend to be multi-skilled. While cricket has its all-rounders, the very fact that some players are known as such indicates that the possession of multiple skills is unusual. Shane Warne was only really good at one thing. A top footballer these days must be good at a number of things.

The decline of the "ultility player" in football since the 80s reflects the way that the game has shifted from a focus on a singular talent (good in the air, nippy) to the combination of skills, which has also had the effect of making team styles more variable in-game and players easier to rotate. His critics don't think Giroud is mediocre, but that he is incomplete - specifically lacking mid-range speed and quick feet in the box.

As Wenger has noted, Arsenal's problem is not a lack of cash to spend, but the absence of any "complete strikers", a la Ronadldo, on the market. His strategy is therefore one of combinations: Walcott + Sanchez, Giroud + Sanchez, Giroud + The Ox etc. The frustration of the fans is that sometimes the chance falls to the wrong player (Sanchez would probably have scored Giroud's first chance, but perhaps not his second).

The parallel here with economics is that investing in the reputation of an individual is risky because outstanding and complete talents are very rare. The more sensible approach is to look for synergistic combinations: a balanced portfolio, strength in depth, hedging etc. What matters is the team, as the hilarious antics of Chelsea are currently proving.

Igor Belanov

I don't usually find too much fault with FATE's posts, but I have to pick holes in his cricketing judgement. There are very few players at test level that cannot bat, and in the recent Ashes players with test centuries like Moeen Ali and Stuart Broad were coming in at 8, 9 or 10. Even batsmen can turn their arms over a bit, and it was an obligatory requirement for professionals playing in quality amateur/semi-pro leagues that they contribute at least 25-30 wickets a season even if they were never bowled in first-class cricket. It is also very rare these days that players cannot field adequately.

Compare this to football, where David Beckham made a very good living without being able to head, tackle or dribble very well, and his contribution was limited to set-pieces and long passes/crosses. There is also still a lot to be said for the cliche of a 'forward's tackle'.


Welcome back Chris, hope you had a good break. One of the key points here (i'll avoid the sports sidetrack!) is how the rating companies got away scott free despite showing their incompetence/complicity in over-rating junk CDO's (etc) that led to the financial crash. How they have any credibility is a source of confusion to me as they comprehensively demonstrated they are not meeting their basic requirements (although if R. Brooks can get a senior leadership role back after destroying a company either through illegality or incompetance, then anything goes these days...)

Dave Timoney

@Igor, I bow to your superior cricketing knowledge, but I still maintain that you can get by in the summer game if you are outstanding at one thing but rubbish at everything else, whereas that hasn't been the case in football for some time.

Beckham had to move abroad to maximise his limited skills when the game changed, whereas a more all-round player like Giggs didn't. By the way, this thought struck me when I noticed Peter Crouch warming up for Stoke on Saturday. He never made it on to the pitch.

Igor Belanov

Crouch is a strange case. Slow and clumsy, yet technically pretty good- he scored some terrific goals with his feet. Oddest was the fact that he couldn't jump well and only got by in the air because he was so tall! (I also seem to have subconsciously ended his career!)

You're probably right that you can theoretically do well at cricket with a more narrow set of skills, just in practice this is rare. It's also interesting that many players have had ability in both football and cricket, and I'm sure we would still have the occasional double international if professional sports teams weren't so precious about their employees.

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