How good was David Beckham?

Was David Beckham a great soccer player, or just a good one who became a cultural icon? He undoubtedly had talent, but teams who signed him faced questions about whether they did so for his star power more than his sporting prowess. To assess him as a player, we could look at his shots, goals, passes, and tackles. But a new method – new to soccer analytics, as far as I can tell – can help to reveal Beckham’s true value to his teams without looking at any of his individual statistics. Though a fairly reliable starter for Manchester United,…
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A new take on soccer analytics

Soccer analytics has come a long way in the past several years. The big teams have hired dozens of number-crunching tyros to sift through data, and academics have started to take an interest as well; not one but two excellent books have charted their progress. The problem, to my eyes, is that lots of people are still doing soccer analytics wrong. Here are some reasons why: 1. Soccer is a team game. It sounds simple, but soccer is a game where every player on the field can affect the performance of every other player. This makes evaluating players infinitely more…
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