What is meant by scoring "just before half-time" and how is it supposed to impact team performance? I expected that scoring "just before half-time" would be defined and measured as the distance from half-time, e.g. t-1sec, t-2sec, and so on. I expected the measurement to work backwards from half-time. Not so. It works forward from the start of the game. It is defined as the 41st to 45th minute after kick-off. Added time at the end of the first half is wrapped into that period.
What about the channels through which it is supposed to impact team performance? Virtually all of the channels listed as potential explanations are psychological. It is about what happens inside the body/brain of the players. A statistical analysis of sports data with potential psychological explanations of correlations. (We might wonder where is the economics but that only takes us into the murky area of defining economics.)
We might also wonder what psychologists might think about the approach. One well-known and respected psychologist is Timothy Wilson. In the second chapter of Redirect: Changing The Stories We Live By, Wilson has two subsections labelled "VIVA THE EXPERIMENTAL METHOD" and "STATISTICAL MAGIC?". The question mark captures his caution about the way the statistical method can be used. He says "multiple regression is the tool of the trade for many economists, sociologists, and psychologists. In these researchers' defense, sometimes it is impossible, for practical or ethical reasons, to perform an experiment using random assignment to condition." Not all caution the reader about the strength of their findings.
It is to the credit of Philippe Meier and his co-authors from the University of Zurich that their Journal of Sports Economics paper provides the reader with a clear outline of their methods, the limitations of their measurement, and the extent to which their results differ from previous work. That is not always the case in the literature. Increasingly readers are presented with "big data" and a range of more sophisticated statistical techniques with the presumption that these overcome any underlying issues about causation.