Most helpful critical review
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
An OK read...
on 4 August 2009
To respond to the praise heaped upon this book, I just want to say that I thought it was an OK read, but not 5 stars - what is it...War and Peace ?
There is a tendency with football literature to be responded to in exalting terms for merely mentioning anything over and above football - so it is in this book and so it is that sp many readers have responded with 5-star reviews. There is mention of politics, history, architecture (at length, and relying too often on the pun of "space" - football pitch and inner-city apartment.) The conclusions drawn from the above contextualisations are often red herrings, with the author himself often shaking them off as lofty observations - others can be interesting observations nonetheless. However, it's usually the players being interviewed that contradict the author, yet somehow back-tracking excuses the original premise, ensuring that the author's opinion remains viable. It's sloppy...
Some parts of the book are very intereting... I particularly enjoyed the chapter "football is not war", detailing the irrational rivalry formed between Germany and the Netherlands, as well as the short history of the so-called connection between Ajax and Amsterdam's Jews. What the book lacked, and what I imagined would have been the principle topic of the book, was a solid exploration of the reasoning behind the "total football" system. From memory, really only two passages or so deal with this, with the rest of the explanation seeming to be that the fierce individualism of the players (curiously enough a Dutch creation ?!?) and their confidence and skill was behind the system. One passage quotes a player as saying something like - "if I run 70 metres up field to get the ball, and then have to run 70 metres back to cover my position, I'll get tired very quickly..." Not a very interesting observation, but closer to an accurate explanation of total football as the other convoluted stuff in the book.