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Inverting the Pyramid: The History of Football Tactics: A History of Football Tactics Hardcover – 26 Jun 2008

4.4 out of 5 stars 137 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Orion; 4th Impression edition (26 Jun. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0752889958
  • ISBN-13: 978-0752889955
  • Product Dimensions: 21.6 x 14.2 x 3.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (137 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 286,686 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

A masterful work, It's all deliciously nerdy - a cross between a coaching manual and a social history - and if its publication helps foster a flowering of interest in the tactical and analytical side of the game in this country, it could be the best thing to have happened to English football in years.**** (TIME OUT - book of the week)

Facts and stats, plus anecdotes, interviews and Wilson's deft touch with football-speak, give colour to a subject that can be a little dry and all-too confusing for those watching (and often those picking the side). (CQ)

For a detailed analysis of how a single striker became the norm throughout football, you had better read Jonathan Wilson's excellent new book about tactics. (Patrick Barclay SUNDAY TELEGRAPH)

[A] fascinating history of tactics, a book that is guaranteed to enhance your football watching; your team may still lose, but you'll have a far better idea why they did. (INDEPENDENT ON SUNDAY)

This must surely go down as one of the most revelatory sports books of the year, as well as one of the best, who would have thought that a book charting the history of football tactics and strategy, from the 1870s to the present day, could be so engrossing and entertaining. (SCOTLAND ON SUNDAY)

Absorbing and informative (GUARDIAN ON LINE)

A gloriously readable, eccentric and informative trawl through the changing tactical mindsets and formations that have helped shape the beautiful game. (METRO)

You will never read a more entertaining or erudite history of tactics (SUNDAY TELEGRAPH-CHRISTMAS BOOKS)

This is a masterful piece of research and lives up to the claim to be nothing less than "a history of football tactics"... Facinating (SCOTSMAN -Books of the Year)

a fascinating analysis of the way the game has evolved tactically from the 1970s until the last season... as a summary of the first 140 years of football tactical history, it is hard to imagine a more readable or thorough effort. (IRISH EXAMINER)

'A masterful work, It's all deliciously nerdy - a cross between a coaching manual and a social history - and if its publication helps foster a flowering of interest in the tactical and analytical side of the game in this country, it could be the best thing to have happened to English football in years.****' (TIME OUT - Book of the Week)

Facts and stats, plus anecdotes, interviews and Wilson's deft touch with football-speak, give colour to a subject that can be a little dry and all-too confusing for those watching (and often those picking the side). (GQ)

Absorbing and informative (GUARDIAN ON-LINE)

You will never read a more entertaining or erudite history of tactics (SUNDAY TELEGRAPH - Christmas Books)

This is a masterful piece of research and lives up to the claim to be nothing less than "a history of football tactics"... Facinating (SCOTSMAN - Books of the Year)

Book Description

First-ever comprehensive global history of football tactics by the highly acclaimed sports writer Jonathan Wilson

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
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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Format: 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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Format: Hardcover
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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Format: 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.
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