How can the best goal keepers at the World Cup can make you a better investor?
Importance of goals and goal keepers
“As a goalkeeper you need to be good at organising the people in front of you and motivating them. You need to see what’s going on and react to the threats. Just like a good manager in business.”
Peter Shilton (England goal keeper & England’s most capped player)
In soccer, goal scoring (and saving) is relatively low by other sports’ standards. For instance, in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa the average number of goals per match was 2.27. When penalities were awarded, 60% resulted in a goal.
When Spain won the 2010 World Cup in South Africa in 2010, it kept an impressive five clean sheets (from 7 tournament matches played). Thus, a goal keeper’s who can save precious goals performs an incredibly important role.
Rugby from football or football from rugby?
Every avid rugby fan out there knows that rugby evolved from ‘soccer’ (as fans of the World Game we believe there is only one ‘football’ and that is ‘soccer’) when legend holds that William Webb Ellis, a student at Rugby School, picked up the ball and ran with it.
However, most rugby and soccer fans alike probably don’t know that penalties in football were copied from the new rugby game back into football in 1891. 79 years later in 1970, FIFA introduced penalty shoot outs for drawn games in soccer.
Glorious dives aren’t always the best
In a penalty a player kicks a stationery ball from a spot 11 metres from the goal with the goalie as the only defence.
Penalties are incredibly important given that most penalties result in a goal and that there are only 2.5 total goals in an average game. Penalties are one of the most most pressured and intense moments in a football match.
A good keeper will do his research on opponent strikers and learns to read the striker’s movements as a key part of his or her success in preventing goals.
You are the goalie!
Imagine you are a goalie and you have between 0.2 to 0.3 of a second over a 11 metre range to decide what to do.
The player facing you, imagine it’s Cristiano Ronaldo or Steven Gerrard, has three choices – kick left, right or centre.
In a split second you must decide whether to dive left, dive right or stay central.
What do you do? Think quick!
You must make your decision before you can clearly see which direction the kicker chooses.
If you correctly guess the direction the kicker kicks, you’ve got a good chance of stopping the goal.
If you’re wrong, then you’ve got no chance of stopping the goal.
Again, what do you do? Think quick!
What goal kickers actually do
A 2005 study (Action Bias Among Elite soccer Goal Keepers; Bar-eli et al 2005) examined the actions of kickers and goalies in penalty situations. The 311 penalty kicks examined were evenly spread between the striker shooting left (32%), centre (29%) and right (39%).
What goal keepers actually do
However, from the goal keeper’s perspective, there was a heavy bias for goalies to either dive left or right (94%) rather than stay still in the centre (6%).
As goalie, what you would do?
The study showed that the strategy that clearly resulted in the highest percentage of saves (60%) was staying central. But even though 29% of kicks went central goalies stayed central only 6% of the time.
Why in that split second goalies had to make a decision did so many of them decide to dive left or right?
Don’t just stand there, do something!
The study explained that goalies choose the appearance of action (a dive left or right) over inaction (staying central) because they don’t want to look foolish in a pressure situation.
Top goalies like Casillas (Spain) and Cesar (Brazil) are paid a lot of money and they want to be seen to act rather than staying in the middle and looking like they are not doing anything to stop the ball.
‘He took a glorious dive but unluckily went the wrong way’ sounds a lot better after the match than ‘He did nothing, he just stood there like an idiot looking foolish’
Clearly there is a bias towards the appearance of action, even though staying central is in itself an action.
Don’t just do something, stand there!
When it comes to investing the lessons are similar. Fund managers are paid to act – to hold the same portfolio through a difficult period, even though it may be the right thing to do, will just look bad to investors.
Personal investors invariably feel like they should do something when they are confronted with changed circumstances.
How often do you feel comfortable doing nothing? Deep down we believe that if we simply do something, we get closer to our goals.
In truth, sometimes the best action is to do absolutely nothing. Admittedly, that’s hard to do. It’s human nature to act in the face of adversity. Think of how many times you’ve heard the phrase, “Don’t just stand there – do something!”
According to Shankar Vedantam in the Washington Post:
“In bad times it’s hard to do nothing…. The action bias, or the desire to do something rather than nothing when you have just been through a terrible experience, plays a powerful role in our lives. It influences individuals and companies, investors and leaders.”
So as you review your portfolio in fluctuating markets, be aware of your internal bias to act. When you have a well constructed, diversified portfolio sometimes the best course of action is to do nothing because that in reality is actually doing something.
According to Carl Richards who writes/draws in the New York Times:
“We need someone after we’ve made the good decision to help us stick with the good decision. It’s easy to stay on the path when things are going well, but when life takes a turn, it can be very difficult to remember all the reasons we thought it was a good idea in the first place.
Whether you give advice or receive it, it’s worth getting really clear about what you’re offering and what you’re receiving. Real financial advisors are about more than picking a stock or timing a market. They are about helping you behave, and from my experience, it’s been a very valuable investment.”
So when you next have a strong urge to try to counteract events with the sense of action, it may be wise to heed the French mathematician and philosopher Blaise Pascal – “All men’s miseries derive from not being able to sit in a quiet room alone”
Our take on best goalies in Brazil 2014
The 32 nations who competed were some of the top goalkeepers on the planet. Here’s our take on the World Cup’s best goalies for 2014.
- Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich & Germany) is possibly the best goalie in the world currently and he played a major part in Bayern’s2013 Champions League victory.
- Iker Casilas (Real Madrid & Spain) recently celebrated Real’s 10th Champions League final victory (from 13 appearances for the club) and so will be in a positive mind heading to Brazil. Showing Spain’s depth in this position, he has Victor Valdes (Barcelona), Pepe Reina (Liverpool on loan to Napoli) and David de Gea (Man U) all nipping at his heals.
- Julio Cesar (Brazil & Queens Park Rangers) made a basic mistake against the Netherlands in 2010 but if Brazil are to win the tournament at home he will need to a rock at the back. Home advantage is huge in sport – Brazil will be there at the pointy end of the tournament.
- Joe Hart (Mighty Man City & England) is currently celebrating the rightful return of Manchester to blue as City celebrate their stunning EPL victory. Expect England to promise much and under-perform, yet again. Football won’t be ‘coming home’ this tournament, much like every other tournament since 1966.
- Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus & Italy) will be the veteran in Brazil at age 36. If Italy do well, this Juve hero who is a master at organising his defensive players will be one of their biggest stars.
- Eugene Galekovic (Adelaide United & Australia) will vie with Mat Ryan (Club Brugge) to be Australia’s #1 goalie in Brazil. Back-ups are Mitch Langerak (Borussia Dortmund) & Mark Birighitti (Newcastle Jets).
Despite the fact that Brazil are strong favourites to win at home, if we were betting people (which we most assuredly are not!) then our money for Brazil 2014 would be on the current 4 favourite, Spain. What do you think? (After comment: The eventual winner in the 2014 Brazil World Cup was Germany)
Given the Socceroos drew a place in the ‘Group of Death’ (Spain – 2010 winners, Netherlands – 2010 finalists; and Chile) you would have to rate Australia’s chances of moving to knock-out stages at one million to one. Having said that, if you were extremely optimistic (or insanely naïve?) you could argue we have a chance against Chile or even the Netherlands if they have an off-day.
We hope you and your team have a great World Cup and that you don’t have too many sleepless nights followed up by long and exhausting work days! It’s time to Samba people!