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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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47 of 50 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliance. Everything to love about football., 19 Mar 2009
By 
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Read for Footy Fans, 6 Jan 2010
By 
J. JOHAL (Birmingham) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Being a football fan who is particularly interested in the tactical side of the game, this book was something that caught my eye having been highly praised by various websites, and having read it myself, it truly does deserve the praise it has received.

Essentially, this book charts the significant changes in the way football is played, from the early English schoolboy days, where the ephasis was almost soley on dribbling, to the fancy passing play of the Hungarians in the fifties, the beautiful attacking football from Brazil, the solid Catenaccio in Italian teams, the Dutch "Total Football" in the seventies, long ball direct outfits in the eighties up to the present day. Every era is explored in great detail, with a seamless flow to the book, as each chapters leads neatly to the next one, describing and explaining the shifts in mentality occuring in the footablling world, detailing the important figures who revolutionised the game with great tactical innovations and how many ideas were borrowed and used as blue-prints for further developments. Importantly, the book also shows how different approaches to the game were forged in different regions of the world, as a result of cultural traditions and climate/environment, providing an insight into the reasons for the various evoutions in the game.

Whilst tactial formations, from the 2-3-5 to the 4-3-3 are the main focus of the book, other areas, such as specific offenive and defensive strategies are also explored in detail, such as the shift to more possesion-based football, and the rise in defensive "pressure", which have changed the way the game is played, and how they interlink with specific formations. Furthermore, they way that science has changed football, with player fitness and nutrition, as well as the mental side of the game taking on a more important role being analysed, with their effects on modern day football explored.

At first glance, this may seem like an intimidating read, with all these numbers and positions floating about, especially for the more casual fan, but all the terms and abbreviations are explained fully, and the use of formation diagrams helps immensely in helping the reader to get their head around some of the ideas and concepts contained within the book.

In conclusion, this is a book I highly rate to any football fan, be it a budding coach or a start up fan. I've read a few books on the history of the game and how it has evolved, but this surpasses the rest by a mile, with it's easy to read but in-depth style, various quotes from repsected figures in the game, and detaield arguments and discussions, which provoke real thoughts on how and why certian styles and tactics/strategies are chosen, and how they compare to eachother.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you enjoy Jonathan Wilson's writing in the Guardian, then you should enjoy this book!, 17 Dec 2009
By 
Robbie Swale - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Inverting the Pyramid: The History of Football Tactics: A History of Football Tactics (Paperback)
Jonathan Wilson writes a series of blogs on Guardian.co.uk about football tactics, analysing new and recent developments. Ever since I started reading the Guardian Sports Blogs, Wilson's have been among my favourites, and when the book was referenced I thought I'd pick it up. I normally find non-fiction a bit hard going - I need a plot to keep me interested - but spurred on by how readable and enjoyable Wilson's blogs are, I thought I'd pick it up, hoping that it would help me understand terms what catenaccio and W-M are!

And, indeed, I now do... and much more.

Inverting the Pyramid is very detailed, but thoroughly enjoyable. It is a history of football tactics from the start of the game to almost the present, giving some beautiful insights into modern football, and teaching me more about the game than I thought there was to know. There are plenty of details on characters we know well - Cruyff, Michels, Lippi - and plenty on those we know less well - Meisl, Lobanovskyi, Sindelar. In fact, at times the number of names involved gets a bit too much, and I can definitely imagine re-reading this book a couple of times before I start to get a handle on exactly who is who!

But that's one of the beauties of the book, it's so detailed that you won't get bored, but at the same time very readable. I really enjoyed it, and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys Wilson's blogs (check them out if you want a taster), and anyone who is interested in a detailed history of football tactics.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Almost perfect, 5 Jan 2009
Wonderful book, couldn't put it down. Absolutely fascinating. The only criticism I would have is of the final chapter, dealing with the most recent developments. It jars with the rest of the book in assuming knowledge and introducing new people without any sort of background. The assumptions are probably fair, but it jars with the storytelling of the rest of the book.
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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
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)   
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
(REAL NAME)   
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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