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The Italian Job Hardcover – 23 May 2006
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"The book is essentially a memoir but with the aid of some really interesting interviews...it gives some astonishing insights into the workings of the modern game" (GQ Style)
"The Italian Job reveals how rival cultures in England and abroad are reflected on the pitch" (The Times)
"Gianluca Vialli's new book is an interesting comparison of sporting attitudes here and on the Continent - To the Italian player, football is a job: to the English one, it's a game" (The Observer)
"...this fascinating book that analyses the difference between English and Italian football...The Italian Job tackles the questions which inform football debate in England and Italy - from the tactical and technical to the cultural and sociological" (Italia)
"An early contender for this year's literary prizes in sport" (Sunday Tribune)
A journey to the heart of two great footballing cultures.See all Product description
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Throughout, ever the perfectionist, Vialli presents meticulous research to back up his views, such as disproving the myth that better weather in Italy produces more technical players or providing evidence that in Italy managers are sacked far more often but have less trouble getting back into the game.
This book moves past football, looking at basic cultural differences and how they are changing and converging over time. It's an excellent read for anyone who enjoys the game and isn't afraid to ask themselves difficult questions.
Otherwise how could you explain the works of Chinese general Sun Tzu and Machiavelli rubbing shoulders with the opinions of Sir Alec Ferguson , Jose Mourinho , Marcello Lippi , Arsene Wenger, Marcel Desailly and err Ray "Butch" Wilkins. So even though Gianluca Vialli is clearly no ordinary footballer ( he opted to write this meditation on football cultures rather than a conventional autobiography and is evidently a thoughtful bloke) it's clear that much of the prose and intellectual backbone of this book comes from Marcotti .
The opinions are the authors though and they and some of the empirical examinations of the main differences between football in Italy and England make truly fascinating reading. The analysis of why training in England differs from that in Italy is backed up ( as are all his arguments) by compelling statistics and it is just one revelation about the disparity in approaches. There is also a difference in mentality and professionalism , particularly when it comes to tactical nuances . Vialli also makes perceptive points about black footballers without resorting to stereotyping and even goes as far to examine the differences between refereeing(Collina is truly captivating in this section) crowds, media , an expanding middle class, and management and even how different physical training impacts on a game . Its full of thought provoking points, opinions and even offers firm judgments on where Vialli believes the game should go in order to improve , some of which will surprise the reader coming from an ex-player, usually the most conservative bunch going.
It occasionally resorts to cliché and the first chapter comparing the two footballing nations to women is truly toe curling . All; the managers come out of it sounding like personable thoughtful people which may surprise those thinking it would be full of Mourinho,s usual biased blather and Ferguson's illogical paranoid rants.Vialli even turns the much cited profiles of combatants Wenger and Ferguson on their heads. A terrific book and one that anybody who claims to be interested in this tremendous sport ( "entertainment industry" ) should find compelling and educational . How many football books can you say that about?
The book is not just for football lovers, to my astonishment I found Philosophy, Mathematics, Social Studies and a multitude of other subjects which are not necessarily related to football itself.
I also liked the way the authors used the English language, for example you would rarely (if not never) find the name of the authors throughout the chapters other than a subtle "yours truly" which in many cases refers to Gianluca Vialli.
On a social responsibility note, I was also happy to have indirectly helped the "Fondiazione Vialli et Mauro per la Ricerca e lo sport", which is a charitable foundation. As the book says - "Gianluca is donating proceeds from The Italian Job" to the foundation.
If you are an English supporter, you have to read this book. Don't be misled by the title and don't be hurt by the "altered England Badge" on the front cover of the book. You might never get to meet Sir Alex Ferguson, Arsène Wenger or Marcello Lippi, but after reading this book, it is as if you shook hands with them.
You will also get to know, Veronica and Mary after you read the book and then you too will be part of the "footballing love triangle".
The authors managed to secure interviews with the likes of Ferguson, Wenger & Mourinho who draw on their personal experience to provide some illuminating insights into the differences between English and Italian football. The book appeared before the 2006 World Cup and uncannily predicts the relative performances of those sides there - England, limited by their players' tactical shortcomings, once again failing to live up to the hype, whereas the Italians drew strength from their off the field problems to lift the trophy.
As anyone familiar with Marcotti's pieces in The Times would expect, the book is generally well written and accessible. Some of the statistics are weak and the graphing of player's abilities looks dubious to this reader. In addition, Vialli's unsuccessful stint at Watford is completely overlooked. It will be interesting to see if the paperback edition is expanded to cover both the World Cup and the summer's corruption scandal in Italian football.
But overall this is likely to be one of the best reads of the 2006/7 season.
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Most recent customer reviews
A book you must read if you are serious about football.
If you want a "we played cards on the bus" type book this is not for you.Read more