The market is saturated with football books, usually of the stocking filler variety - either god-awful laddish affairs, unjustified memoirs or beyond boring pub trivia-type drivel. Bravo for this one, then, which instead provides a very thought provoking and intelligent dissection of the state of modern football. As a fan these days I find myself getting bored reading the media football pages and having read JFG I thank the authors for pointing out why.
Starting with a guilty dream team, JFG quotes Danny Blanchflower, who states that football is not so much about winning but is about glory. And so by attempting to define the soul of football, and what makes it great, the book then sets about illustrating how all this has come undone in recent years, most notably since the inception of the Premier League in 1992.
The reasons themselves are familiar to most football fans: narcissistic players, the winning at all costs mentality, the monopolisation of domestic and European competition by the elite few, the stinking governing bodies, the hypocrisy of fans and the damned media. Where this book differs, and how it ultimately works, is that it is academic in its research, yet the witty journalistic style is very readable, and you don't have to be an "in the know" football nerd to appreciate it. There were plenty of bits that had me nodding in agreement: "where the money is stacked highest an antagonistic sense of entitlement has crystallized and fans strop about like Veruca Salt". Being a fan of the nouveau-riche Leicester City, I can attest to that! A section about fans in the media (commenting on online news stories etc) is also particularly good.
I would recommend buying this book - the fact that it is so contemporary, written in the early part of the 2011/12 season makes it worth doing now but I think the themes will make it relevant for a good many years to come.