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26 of 26 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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26 of 26 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
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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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26 of 28 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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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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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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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 500 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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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
5.0 out of 5 stars Best football book I've read, 9 Sep 2013
Inverting the Pyramid will open your eyes about football & how it's actually played. It will spark an even greater interest in the game and help you appreciate it more. Immerse yourself into the history of the great sides, players and manager's who helped change/influence the game. You feel greatful to Mr. Wilson for going to the effort of researching all this and writing it in such a splendid way. Someone with a true love for the game.

One of the great holds football has on me is the history, the fact that every game adds to what went before, the knowledge that the next great manager/team is just around the corner, the next tactical trend, whether it's like Sacchi's Milan or Guardiola's Barca. Someone new always comes along and changes tactics & the way the game is played. It's been like this since the beginning & it continues today. This book takes you all the way through that fascinating journey.

The book is also full of great stories & "myths". A personal favourite was the story of how one manager claimed to have thought up Catenaccio after seeing a fisherman working down the docks.

Fantastic! 5 out of 5.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a mixed bag, 1 Sep 2013
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This review is from: Inverting the Pyramid: The History of Football Tactics: A History of Football Tactics (Paperback)
An odd book i thought insofar as its overly laboured in parts, suitably informative in others and skims over fairly significant developments in other sections. Too much time spent on the first 50 years of football and too little on modern era.
Nonetheless interesting and well researched, I would still recommend this and am enjoying watching football in a new light, although Michael owen says he watches matches now and struggles to see any formation as modern players are so fit and mobile...I've got no chance then!
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