The Secret Footballer’s Guide to the Modern Game

The Secret Footballer Guide to the Modern Game

 

The third book from The Secret Football takes a different approach from his first two, almost deliberately light, seemingly designed as a stocking filling with a mixture of short bursts of gossip, analysis and opinion.

Whereas the first book was an expansion of his Guardian columns and the second book an enjoyable update with more anecdotes, The Secret Footballer’s Guide to the Modern Game is like a collection of intelligent pub conversations for the football fan.

Training drills and fitness regimes are interesting detail for those of us immersed in the game but who don’t work in professional clubs. It is arguable that the info graphics about twitter followers and retweets and subjective lists on players and goals add little to the book, but when writing on the wider subjects, notably the workings of FIFA, the strategy of sponsors and tactical approaches, make an easy read.

At its best the book has The Secret Footballer in full flow with his thoughts on the game itself, notably the lack of intelligence of many that still demand that players dive in to chase the ball on the pitch or don’t have patience to understand about the creation of space by either movement or positioning.

Keeping his identity secret is no longer the priority, and after the last book there were enough clues for a few internet searches to cross-check the detail and give a reader who wants to work out who the managers he cites are. There are more personal anecdotes here, that continue to give the impression of an intelligent player who loves the game, with a cultural football upbringing of watching Hoddle and Gascoigne, while being wise to the forces that use the sport as nothing more than a commodity.

It is a good read for fans but still has enough about it to show that most players live in a different world in most part from the paying punter; one anecdote about Mark Viduka shows there is a lack of understanding that the game wouldn’t be as marketable with people who pay to fill stadiums, create an atmosphere and contribute to important match-day receipts and merchandise.

A football supporter doesn’t want to hear excuses about unmotivated performances, see players boasting about wealth and don’t want to listen to moaning about progressive taxes on mansions in an economic climate where food banks are on the rise.  The money that has come into the game may mean there is now a gap that will never be bridged between the player and the fan, but this book is still a nice little read from one to the other.

MG

Mel Gomes is the author of the e-book Glory Nights from Wankdorf to Wembley which documents Tottenham’s return to the European Cup. It is available to preview for free and download in full from Amazon and Smashwords. More details, including photos and links to reviews, here.

Glory Nights: From Wankdorf to Wembley

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