Why England Lose, a book published a few months ago by Stefan Szymanski and my FT colleague Simon Kuper, makes the following key points:
- England do about as well as you’d expect, given their size, economic power, proximity to football’s “core” in Western Europe, and footballing history. That is, you’d expect them to usually make the last 16, sometimes make the last 8, occasionally make the last 4 and make the final very rarely. And they do.
- Managers don’t make much difference to a team’s expected performance. Not even Fabio Capello.
- There is no correlation between the qualifying performance (which in this particular campaign was outstanding) and the performance at the championship itself (which… well, the less said the better).
Not a bad prediction from an economist and a sports pundit, eh? It’s a fun book, too.