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4.0 out of 5 stars A must read, but......., 9 Sep 2012
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This review is from: Inverting The Pyramid: The History Of Football Tactics (Kindle Edition)
This is an extraordinary piece of work; very extensively researched and insightful.

I was fascinated by the tactical perspective on the history of football and then intrigued by Wilson's analysis of the the game during the last 50 years or so - much of which I have witnessed first hand. I'd unreservedly recommend the book to all "thinking" football fans.

I have two observations. First, having recently read the "Italian Job" by Guanluca Vialli, I was struck time and again by the complete lack of tactical analysis in our media. A stark contrast with Italy according to Vialli. At times I was embarrassed that I'd failed to appreciate the tactical nuances in many of the games I've watched over the years. The 86 World Cup game against Argentina is a classic example. I rationalised my ignorance by constant reference to the facile nature of our football reporting and punditry.

My second observation is .....hmmmmmm..... Whilst I don't doubt Wilson's analysis, there are two potential failings. The first is an apparent lack of recognition of the importance of players. Were the pathbreaking teams Wilson talks about the product of tactical innovation or the result of a coming together of a group of wonderful players? The reality, of course, is almost certainly a little of each. The second, and most important weakness, is that there is less analysis of what works, why and in what circumstances than there might have been. Perhaps it's asking too much, but whilst I feel much better informed I'm not sure I'm any wiser about how England should set up, for example.

Wilson's coup de grace is that in the epilogue he predicts that the next tactical evolution might well be to 4-6-0 - exactly as deployed by Spain during Euro 2012. Very impressive!! The question, once again, is whether the system makes sense or whether it was simply the best way to accommodate Spain's remarkably talented players. Nevertheless, Wilson is obviously a real expert and it's hard to avoid the conclusion that had a generation of English managers thought anything like as much about the game as he has then our international record would be much less disappointing.
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