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Why Billy Beane was right to avoid the EPL and work with AZ Alkmaar

The Oakland A’s general manager will be able to make an impact in a football culture that has traditionally ignored analytics

The year after Holland reached the 2010 World Cup final, Dutch daily broadsheet NRC ran a satirical column called Tiki-Taka, featuring snatches of conversation between two of England’s leading soccer writers: David Winner, author of Brilliant Orange, the seminal book on Dutch soccer, and Simon Kuper, author of Soccernomics. Winner had recently seen Moneyball. “I love the idea that Billy Beane applied the principles of the Enlightenment – scepticism, free-thinking, intelligence – to sport,” said Winner. “Let’s get Billy in as Ajax’s technical director. He’ll put Dutch football straight back in the avant garde!”

Someone was listening to Winner, but it wasn’t Ajax. Last week, AZ Alkmaar confirmed that Beane would work in an official advisory capacity to the club, while retaining his position as general manager of the Oakland A’s.

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