Cultured Football #111
Plymouth. KV Oostende. Headers. AZ Alkmaar. Bundesliga Rookies.
Welcome to Cultured Football where the best football writing of the past seven days is carefully selected, just for you.
Plymouth Argyle’s promotion to the Championship is a tale of bad luck, hard work and two owners
By Daniel Storey for iNews
Plymouth Argyle have just won League One with a massive 101 point. Significantly they did so without an owner bankrolling them to success. Theirs is one of the great story from this season that everyone should know more about.
By Ed Aarons for The Guardian
KV Oostende have just been relegated from the Belgian top flight and have debts that are so high that their continued existence is at risk. Their only route to salvation, it seems, is being sold off to one of the growing number of multi-club ownership groups. Plenty are circling. Whether it is a future worth having is another matter.
By Andrew Beasley for The Analyst
The much abused term Moneyball is often used in reference to data in football; any team that relies on data (which is practically everyone these days) is said to have a moneyball approach. Yet, whilst data was important to the Oakland Athletic on whom the book Moneyball was written, it was not the data in itself that was the foundation of their philosophy but their search for any way to get an advantage over richer teams. Advantages like using heading to create chances, for example, is a moneyball insight.
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AZ Alkmaar use BrainsFirst test to identify best young talent and it has helped them win UEFA Youth League
By Adam Bate of SkySports
Surprisingly, AZ Alkmaar won this year's UEFA Youth League by scoring 19 goals and conceding only twice in the knockout stages to thus announce themselves as one of Europe’s best academies. This success is due to their process of establishing which players they invest time in, which is based on a decade of studying the brains of players as young as 12 to understand their potential. For them, the idea of being able to predict future performance is not a dream but an ambition.
I had not heard of Randal Kolo Muani before the World Cup which was actually kind-of-nice; I miss the days when the World Cup was the event where you discovered wonderful players you weren’t aware of. That’s much harder now where every league is followed in depth and there are people on social-media talking about best talents in the Italian Serie C. Or when you come across something like this which highlights the players who have really established themselves as stars - Kolo Muani being one of them - in this year’s Bundesliga.
Something Else I’ve Loved This Week
There have been many great images coming out of Naples following their Scudetto win. You’ve probably seen most of them already some I’m going a bit left-field by picking the individualised shirts the players wore during the festivities. Napoli have not really had a kit manufacturer these past two season so they experimented with kits that bore the images of the players wearing them. Sadly the league did not allow them to wear that kit during games so they kept them for this special occasion
Last Week’s Most Read: The Irish Market: Brexit, England and Europe
By Andy Watson for Analytics FC
English football is taking a step back into its past by looking to Ireland for new talent with a combination of post-Brexit restrictions and improving standards at League of Ireland being key factors. The gold rush is unlikely to slow down now that everyone is searching for the next Evan Ferguson.