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Richer Than God: Manchester City, Modern Football and Growing Up Paperback – 25 Apr 2013
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'The best football book I have read for a long time' Sam Wallace, Independent. (Independent)
'Superb. Nick Hornby meets Michael Crick' Rob Draper, Mail on Sunday. (Mail on Sunday)
'A must read' Tony Evans, The Times. (The Times)
About the Author
David Conn is an award-winning author, journalist and broadcaster, widely regarded as the foremost investigative writer in football. He writes for the Guardian and was the 2010 Sports News Reporter of the Year. He has three times been named Football Writer of the Year by the Football Supporters' Federation for his investigative work. He lives near Harrogate, in North Yorkshire.
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Conn is candid throughout, even touching upon his relationship with his "other faith" - Judaism. It's a journey of discovery, of realisation that 'clubs' are actually 'companies' and all that that entails for how they are run. I'm not a City fan (I'm a Blade: United are also owned by a Sheik, but he's yet to throw quite as much money at us...), but that didn't hamper my enjoyment in the slightest.
By the end of the journey, Conn is not the enthusiastic City fan of days of yore: he's discovered too much about the beautiful game in general and his own club in particular. But he's still a fan. Just a tad older and wiser... and the latter is not always a good thing. Especially where the simplest, most instinctive and intuitive of sports is concerned.
Only Manchester City fans can tell tales quite like this - of the ups and downs we have had in the past couple of decades supporting our glorious club, and Conn, a true blue since boyhood, is very good on the detail, told with humour and heart. The promotions, successive relegations, sell outs, buy outs, stars and flops are all here. Only my club with our famous Joe Royle coined disease, Cityitis, could have made such hard work of things. Conn is very good, for example, on the massive let down that was Franny Lee, who came back like a knight in shining armour as a star of our past, only to sell `our best players to pay for restaurants.' And as someone who was part of the Kippax sit-in to get rid of the hated former Chairman Peter Swales, that particular piece of disloyalty and greed still cuts deep with me.
But Conn is also very concerned with the overtaking of the whole national game, not just Manchester City, by money men who can buy and sell clubs, can load them with debt to finance personal fortunes, and who are collectively raising ticket prices and ruining its soul, for this author at any rate. It is very well written and well argued. And with the tragedy of Rangers unbelievably unravelling not so far away over the border, it could not be timelier.
Conn is one of those City supporters who lost their way and stopped believing religiously in their club, as these changes in the game occurred. This is perhaps understandable for a journalist who has to cultivate an altogether more dispassionate viewpoint. I wish all our clubs could be collectively and communally owned like in Germany or the mighty Barcelona, but they are not and I cannot see that happening any time soon. So I am not sorry that my club has been bought by a rich sheik - and I defy football fan of other clubs in our position to spurn the riches, and yes the success, which we enjoy now (although of course many say they would).
And although I have never stopped believing, and still get the same buzz out of the roar of the crowd at the Etihad as I did when I first went to Maine Road over twenty years ago, this is still a book to really appreciate. Obviously it will appeal to City fans, but I do hope that other people concerned about the future of football, and its place in the fabric of our society, will read it too. Now roll on the start of the season...
Here Conn looks at the take over of Manchester City in 2008 and how the takeover has takeover has changed in some respects the outlook of the club. How internal attitudes have changed and that they no longer feel down on themselves.
There are some factual errors in the book especially when recalling the 1999 Play Off final win stating that the rain put off a planned victory tour of Manchester - actually none was ever planned especially as the week before the other team in Manchester showed off their treble.
Other than that a great read and a fasinating read about the new ownership of the Club and the plans they have for moving forward. A must for City fans and a book of interest for football fans.
The story of that success; Thaskin Shinawatra buying the club, injecting millions that maybe were not his to inject, then the take over by one of the worlds richest men and the subsequent huge financial outlay - well we all know the story don't we? Whether you are a City fan trying to justify it or an angry fan of another club accusing City of buying success and killing football, its still a fascinating story.
And so I approached this book hoping for some insight into whats gone on at City to get to this point and yes you do get that. But it all becomes rather swamped under the 'money and business' side of it all.
I loved the Authors reminisces about growing up with City, the ruining of a very promising club by Peter Swales the Chairman and Malcolm Allison the returning hero and the eventual drop from top flight to obscurity, but so much more could and should have been written about it all. Where are the interviews with former managers? God knows there was enough of them!
I'm sorry but I found as the Author got deeper and deeper into the ins and outs of club takeovers etc I got more and more bored and found myself skipping pages just to find bits I could understand.
One thing I did learn from it all is yes City (and some other clubs too) ARE killing football and its really hard to face up to that. Like the Author I have fallen a bit out of love with the club now and if I'm honest - top flight football in general.
If you are looking for nostalgia and ultimate triumph as I was then you may be disappointed with this book, but if you want a big bite of a reality sandwich and want to know whats REALLY going on in the Premier League then give it a go. But you may end up cancelling your Sky sports and going to support a local team instead....
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