A tribute to Sigi Schmid

Last week the soccer world lost Sigi Schmid, the German-American coach who did so much to enhance Major League Soccer and the sport in general across the United States. I’m not a great historian, so I won’t dwell on Schmid’s less measurable contributions. I want to pay tribute to his acumen in ways I can quantify. Readers of this blog will already be familiar with the NYA method for rating coaching skill, i.e. whether a coach can make the whole of his squad perform better than the sum of its parts. By this metric, the quality of coaching in MLS…
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Stop sacking managers

Sacking managers is expensive – just ask the folks over at Manchester United, who have reportedly paid at least £12 million to be rid of José Mourinho. Now that the dust has cleared a bit, I want to make a somewhat unpopular point: sacking Mourinho was a mistake. Here’s why. Hiring a top manager in soccer is never easy for a big club. Once the executives think they know the person they want, they lose all their bargaining power. That’s because a top manager usually doesn’t mind too much where he coaches. Mourinho has been happy in Portugal, Italy, Spain, England… next he could go to…
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Mental errors in soccer

Plenty has been written about the role of cognitive bias in sports. Much of it, however, is theoretical. Having worked in soccer for six years now, I’ve experienced the effect of several biases – and other mental errors – directly in my daily interactions. I thought it might be helpful for other decision-makers in soccer to hear about some of these errors in a real-world setting. Here is a short and doubtlessly incomplete list. I’ve coined some of the terms myself, so expert readers may know some of these phenomena by other names. Prejudice. Simple, old-fashioned prejudice is alive and well…
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