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27 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing insight into the beautiful game
This book is well worth your money if you're a fan of football. The information presented there is very detailed, with lots of interesting facts. The overall style of writing is engaging and intelligent. The text is supplemented with easy-to-understand diagrams (formations, tactics) and there are also photos (in color) in the middle of the book. But the most valuable...
Published on 13 Jan 2010 by Gleb Belov

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32 of 38 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Leaves you longing for some direct play
In many respects this is the football fan's perfect book: what could be better than an obsessively detailed analysis of tactics and formations? Well, the answer is: one that manages to blend detail with an overarching narrative; one that has a bit more purpose about its play.

Wilson's research and grasp of his subject is truly staggering. He works methodically,...
Published on 15 Jun 2009 by M. Harrison


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27 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing insight into the beautiful game, 13 Jan 2010
This review is from: Inverting the Pyramid: The History of Football Tactics: A History of Football Tactics (Paperback)
This book is well worth your money if you're a fan of football. The information presented there is very detailed, with lots of interesting facts. The overall style of writing is engaging and intelligent. The text is supplemented with easy-to-understand diagrams (formations, tactics) and there are also photos (in color) in the middle of the book. But the most valuable feature of this book is, of course, the subject matter itself. Never before have I seen such a detailed work on the evolution of football tactics. It has to be said, even though this book is focused on the tactical aspect of the game, it is obviously not only about 4-4-2's and the like, there is actually plenty of history in there as well (and 'plenty' is an understatement). Overall I can definitely recommend this to anyone who is interested in football. You will not be disappointed. And last but not least: 'Inverting The Pyramid' is actually just pretty fun to read, you know, like a book, as if there was a plot. A sporting page-turner, if I may say so.
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48 of 51 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliance. Everything to love about football., 19 Mar 2009
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I would like to see all the UK's cliche-spouting, brain-deadening, parochial and myopic TV pundits suspended until they've read, and can pass a written test on this book. There's more sense in a few pages than I've ever heard from Alan Hansen. Anyone who ever again says "You just need to pick the best 11 players... ". There should be an official injunction against Kevin Keegan ever becoming manager at another club.

The best part is, it looks like a dry technical textbook.. but it's actually madly passionate about the game, the characters, the colour, the place of football in wider-culture and the national identity.

His analysis of Croatia v England during the qualifiers for Euro08 is deeply cathartic; explaining specifically and simply how we were so effectively carved up. I was also amazed by the evidence showing that England's football character hasn't changed in 100-odd years - from the start the game here was about passion and workrate over technique and skill (this is only just starting to change). And by his explanation of how the game spread around the world via trade routes. And by his observation that Real Madrid are habitually the whipping boys of whichever club is the new force in Europe (Benfica, Ajax, AC Milan..) - so hello Liverpool. I was surprised by the heat and violence of the Argentine game, and the bewildering decay of Uruguay and Hungary. And Roy Hodgson, what a bloke!

The one thing I thought is missing from the book is an in-depth analysis of Wenger at Arsenal and the shake-up he's given the UK game, though now I've reached the end I suspect he would say that, as beautiful as they can be to watch, there's nothing new tactically (they're basically a traditional 4-4-2..)

Oh and some technical insight into the great Lampard-Gerrard paradox.
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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars destined to become a classic, 9 Nov 2008
this is quite possibly the best book on sports that i have ever read. Much more than a history of the tactical evolution of football, it is a fascinating account of why football has become the most loved and watched sport on the planet. it is comprehensive in its detail, but never less than readable and engrossing - i am currently on my second time through. it is very well illustrated with diagrams that explain the text. i cannot recommend it highly enough to anyone who loves the sport and is interested in how it got to where we are now, or for that matter to anyone just interested in the history of the world over the last century or so - a great read.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Scarily True, 24 July 2010
This review is from: Inverting the Pyramid: The History of Football Tactics: A History of Football Tactics (Paperback)
I read this book during the 2010 Football World Cup and it really shows how little has changed with regards to the English attitude towards football. Some of the debate about the changes needed for the future development of English football. It offers compelling tactical insight into the game and charts the tactical developments since the advent of the game. A truly great book for those wanting to understand the development of tactics and for those looking for tactical innovations for Football Manager.

Great read and highly recommended
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Top notch punditry on the page., 25 Aug 2009
By 
russell clarke "stipesdoppleganger" (halifax, west yorks) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Inverting the Pyramid: The History of Football Tactics: A History of Football Tactics (Paperback)
Remember that old Harry Enfield sketch where old footballers ran in a line just chasing the ball? Well that's not too far off how the game was once and then somebody got the idea that wouldn't it be better if we started using more of the pitch , didn't just kick and rush and started passing the ball to each other. Thus the game evolved and then kept on evolving . And one of these days somebody will inform Everton .
Silly jibes aside Inverting The Pyramid is a truly fascinating meticulously researched book on the history of football tactics . What it ultimately concludes with regard to English football is that we value ,perceived effort, graft and toil above tactical nous and technical ability ,something already capably covered in the book Those Feet: A Sensual History of English Football. Until this is remedied and we learn to play to systems using the correct balance of players ,rather than shoehorning in badly matched combinations of the "best" players ( Gerrard & Lampard is the most glaring example ) then we will struggle against the best international teams.
This book though isn't xenophobic in it's viewpoint , covering tactical innovations throughout the game from Brazil , Russia , Austria , Italy , Hungary and Argentina and indeed concentrating mainly on the way coaches from abroad have moved the game on. From Herbert Chapman , manager of Arsenal who invented the W-M system to Hugo Meisl who had Austria playing a 2-3-5 to the great Hungarian side of the 1950,s a "hairs-breadth" from 4-2-4 to the Brazil side coached by Vincete Feola who actually were a 4-2-4 to the all conquering AC Milan managed by Arrigo Sacchi who played 4-4-2 this book covers all the permutations .
There are diagrams laying out the formations with arrows pointing out where players were expected to shift and cover .These can be a tad confusing but do help but it's not just the formations its, the overall tactics that play a part. The sterile catenaccio pioneered by Helenio Herrera and Nereo Rocco is diametrically opposed to the total football envisaged by Rinus Michels .Then there is the pressing game brought to England by none other than the much maligned Graham Taylor and the pressing employed by Sacchi which was more about the "manipulation of space " than closing down the opponent.
Two Englishman are covered extensively in this book .Jimmy Hogan , originally from Burnley , considered to be one of the most influential and brilliant coaches the game has ever seen and the father of central European football and FA technical director Charles Hughes , from...well does it matter ? This is the man who may well have condemned English football to years of blundering inarticulacy from a football perspective .or as Brian Glanville puts it he is the man "who poisoned the wells of English football ". Wilson forensically tears apart his assertion for the long ball game .In fact Wilson pretty much tears apart the way England have approached the game for the last forty years. .
Inverting The Pyramid may be too dry and analytical for some tastes but for anyone remotely interested in football beyond the glamour, showbiz and personalities this is fascinating stuff and the points it makes deeply thought provoking . None more so than his scrutiny of why no top sides came in for Michael Owen when he left Real Madrid ( of course he has now joined Man Utd but the point is still relevant ) and why England were given the run around by Croatia in the qualifiers for Euro 2008. Give the guy a pundits job .
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Certain to Inform and entertain., 25 Oct 2009
By 
A. Taylor (Harrogate, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Inverting the Pyramid: The History of Football Tactics: A History of Football Tactics (Paperback)
I must admit having read the eventual winner of the 2008 William Hill Sporting book of the Year, Marcus Trescothick's 'Coming back to me,' and Wilson's 'Inverting the Pyramid,' there is no question the judges got it wrong. Perhaps it is the unhealthy culture that exists within society about other people's lives that makes Banger's book the winner but Wilson's journey is very informative and interesting.

It is perhaps more likely to be a book for anoraks and certainly doesn't flow like an autobiography. That isn't a criticism, it is purely because his style covers all and that includes protagonists most football lovers are unlikely to have heard of.

More in the style of Glanville and covers topics that most readers wouldn't normally seek out. Brilliant sourcing and an incredible read. It's a shame there aren't many other books akin to 'Pyramid.'
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic, 8 Oct 2010
This review is from: Inverting the Pyramid: The History of Football Tactics: A History of Football Tactics (Paperback)
Insightful, interesting, highly educational. A wonderful book.

Highly recommended for football fanatics and for those who wish to understand a country's cultural influences as demonstrated through football.
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32 of 38 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Leaves you longing for some direct play, 15 Jun 2009
By 
M. Harrison "Hamish" (London, UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Inverting the Pyramid: The History of Football Tactics: A History of Football Tactics (Paperback)
In many respects this is the football fan's perfect book: what could be better than an obsessively detailed analysis of tactics and formations? Well, the answer is: one that manages to blend detail with an overarching narrative; one that has a bit more purpose about its play.

Wilson's research and grasp of his subject is truly staggering. He works methodically, chronologically and geographically through a world history of football, meticulously charting the evolution of every tactical formation. In so doing he uncovers national characteristics of the game that are startlingly enduring. The English, it transpires, have distrusted possession football and the deployment of skill over endeavour since their first opponents were unmanly enough to start passing the ball rather than merely charging blindly down the pitch. The Brazilians were happy enough if the game was beautiful: scoring came second. The Argentinians always knew how to play the man first and the ball second. The Russians treated football like an expression of scientific socialism.

And along the way Wilson explains and tracks all the famous ingredients of the football formation: catenaccio, the libero, the sweeper, the playmaker, the wingback.

Initially his thoroughness and knowledge feel like a refreshing release from the empty cliches of everyday football punditry. But after a while it feels as if he is playing the possession game - showing us he holds all the facts, and that he's going to use them to grind out a result. What the book lacks is a thesis. One longs for a rhetorical flourish; for a position; for the book to seem to have a goal. Instead we get every last thing Wilson researched including every anecdote, relevant or not, and every character, colouful and otherwise.

If you are actively engaged with coaching, the book is a must-read. You will have the motivation to pick carefully through the detail - though you may still be disappointed by some of the formation diagrams, which don't always relate neatly to the text.

If you are just reading for pleasure, however,you are likely to find it increasingly hard going, and monotonous in its approach.

Sadly it becomes a little like watching George Graham's Arsenal, when what you long for is a little Wenger. But then there was much to admire even in boring Arsenal, and so it is with Inverting the Pyramid. Expect to learn a lot, but not to be entertained.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic, 26 Nov 2009
By 
M. V. Clarke (Durham, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Inverting the Pyramid: The History of Football Tactics: A History of Football Tactics (Paperback)
What a brilliant book; Jonathan Wilson's 'Inverting the Pyramid' is a superbly detailed, analytical but also highly readable account of the history and development of football tactics. Beginning with the early history of the modern game, he charts the rise of organised playing systems, initially founded on a pyramid with 5 attackers, through the many changes of the C20th to the present-day emphasis on flexibility and adaptability. He carefully shows how different systems and approaches, such as the use of a 'libero', a 5-man midfield, and attacking wing backs are related to one another and accurately identifies their stengths and weaknesses. His comments on some of the most notable tactical approaches of the C20th - Hungary, Brazil, AC Milan, Holland, Wimbledon, are well considered and backed up with careful analysis of their progress. Comments on individual players such as Michael Owen, Juan Román Riquelme are very revealing - showing a careful understanding of modern football. Both this book and Wilson's earlier Behind the Curtain: Travels in Eastern European Football mark him out as one of the most perceptive and engaging football writers around.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great book for coaches, 8 Dec 2009
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This review is from: Inverting the Pyramid: The History of Football Tactics: A History of Football Tactics (Paperback)
Others have written good reviews about the detail in this book which I agree with. I just wanted to confirm that you can use this book when coaching amateur teams. I've read various other books on coaching, most of which are too simplistic and/or too thoerectical - ie. they show no insight into tactical nuances, and no appreciation of the hard realities of a real match. This book describes real football played at the highest club and country levels over the past 100 years, in an in-depth, incisive way, and yet is so crystal clear in its telling that you genuinely can apply what you learn when coaching your local team. Over the chapters it gives real examples of each formation working (or not!); why mobile ball-playing centre backs replaced the purely hard men; how a sweeper can still operate effectively (how I love that one), but all told in easily accessible conversational form.

And coaches - if you're feeling insecure, the real-life tales in this book are proof that you can be a saviour one season, then a has-been the next, only to resurface elsewhere as a saviour again. But that's what we're in it for isn't it?
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