A Little More Intellectual Than Our Average Post

When Should a Soccer Manager Insert His Subs? - NYTimes.com

Continuing with the theme from yesterday of advanced analysis, we bring you a link to a post from perhaps the most interesting blog in the world.  The authors of Freakonomics and SuperFreakonomics bring together a cast of contributors that inevitably provide something interesting for you to contemplate.  It isn't always the most useful knowledge ever but chances are that at the very least it will make for solid cocktail party conversation topic.  This post as the title suggests discusses a statistical study of when substitutions were made and what timing seemed to lead to the most success for managers of teams that are trailing.

Worth a read (and worth adding the RSS feed to whatever you use to consume RSS feeds).

Enjoy the international friendlies and hope for good injury news.


  1. Correlation or causality?

    I'd say teams that can substitute early when trailing (e.g., before 58th minute, per the research) are ones with good benches - typically the better teams with deep rosters. So, one obvious 2nd level conclusion from the study is that deeper, better teams are more likely to come back from a deficit than weaker teams. Well, duh...

  2. @G-man - I agree, it wasn't the most well-constructed research ever and you'd like to see more specific situations analyzed like "when should a superior in the standings/more talented team substitute when ahead to maintain the lead?" or "when should an inferior-in-the-standings/less talented team sub to maximize their chances of coming back?" (and a bunch of other variations like "when should you bring in an attacker?" or "when should you sub out an attacker for a defender if you're ahead?" etc.).

    If I had more free time and a convenient data set that would allow me to run the numbers, I'd definitely be interested in finding out the answers to all of the above.

    Cheers - Neal

  3. G-man2:44 PM

    @Neal - perhaps we can get the guys who worked on Soccernomics to write a follow-up - e.g., SuperSoccernomics - diving deeper into such topics as optimal substitution strategy.