I previously read the late Bob Crampsey's, 'Mr Stein,' and felt that he failed to get close to identifying Stein's complex character. Archie Macpherson, on the other hand does succeed, mainly because he knew the man quite well, and clearly because he spoke to a lot of people who were close to him. What comes across is that Stein was a shrewd tactician, and a great motivator of players, but also that he was an unbending autocrat in the dressing room. It was his way, or his way. Not unlike Brian Clough, I thought. Archie rightly points out that Stein was a great TV pundit, and it always struck me that he spoke very wisely. Apparently he also had a great sense of mischief, and loved crooning. The book is a great read, only docked a star because of the author's dreadful choice of metaphors and similes.
Archie Macpherson's biography of Jock Stein is a fascinating story of one of the most successful managers in the history of British football. I found it very interesting to learn how Jock Stein emerged from the Lanarkshire coal pits to become a master of man management and modern football tactics. Under Stein's command, Celtic became the first British club to win the European Champions Cup in 1967, the year they won every major Scottish honour that they competed for. Macpherson studies in depth how Stein reacted to the religious prejudice directed against him after he first signed for Celtic as a player, and how this experience bolstered his desire to make Celtic the best team in Scotland when he later became manager. The book also deals in detail with Stein's tenure as Scotland manager, culminating in his untimely and sudden death at the end of the World Cup qualifying match against Wales in Cardiff in 1985.
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Read this over a month and I found it to be wonderful read. A couple of reasons why it stands out against modern biographies is the time-period which it covers. Stein was a miner who went on manage Celtic, win the European Cup and manage Scotland! In addition, the is a close bound between Archie Macpherson which could could easily become doe-eyed but the author manages to retain some distance to look at his subject matter in its entirety. From Stein, spawned Ferguson, Souness, Dalglish, Strachan, McNeill and countless other managers. The Big Man's ideals and style lives on...
A very detailed and unashamedly honest look inside the world of one of the greatest man managers of all time. Utterly ruthless and unbelievably passionate about football and the men who played the game.