The great footballers and coaches are rarely glimpsed up close. They shield themselves from the tabloids, hide their personalities behind professionalism, and in the words of the cliche, 'do their talking on the pitch'. This book gets up close to them. The Football Men is not a series of celebrity profiles, and it doesn't attempt to unearth secrets in the players' private lives. Rather, it portrays these men as three-dimensional human beings. It describes their upbringings, the football cultures they grew up in, the way they play, and the baggage that they bring to their relationships at work. This multimillion-pound, multinational world is mostly inhabited by ordinary men. The profiles in this book are sometimes funny, but never breathless or sensational. Some of the profiles in this book are based on interviews; others are the results of time the author spent with that person; sometimes the profile is a story of a country. All are fascinating and shed light on their subject to reveal things you wouldn't expect. From one of the great sports writers of our time, this is a penetrating and surprising collection of articles on the figures that have defined the modern sporting world.
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After reading the excellent "Why England Lose" I really looked forward to this one. The analysis in that book is superb and perhaps one of my favourites. So when downloading this I was really looking forward to a breakdown on agents, managers, players, chairmen ... basically the people who run football - which is what is indicated in the description.
However, this book sadly delivers on so many levels, and any book that holds Maradona as a God alongside Pele, who delivered the Argentinian public World Cup glory on his own in 1986 and then places Thierry Henri on second row even after citing his "hand" in the French qualification against Ireland deserves a place in the bin - except its a download - so for me the waste basket. It seems to me that this football writer is so far out-of-touch with the British public, he may as well be a politician.
The author, who is based in Paris, has a flair for stats and continually laments the efforts, flexibility, training regimes and pitch coverage of French, Dutch, Italian, Swedish and Brazilian footballers who he states dominate and boss the midfield. He then slates Beckham suggesting he is despised in England. How does he know, he does not live here. He seems to think the British public hate him because of the kickout to Simeone, (which most other football writers play on Simeone's theatrics being the cause of the sending off, as Beckham was laid on the floor at the time) and then goes on to quote his marketing success around the globe in his branding as though it is a bad thing. Did he not earn this success through giving 110% in every match, chasing every ball, giving telling passes and practicing free kicks, not to mention being England's best captain and midfielder for many years. I'm not a Man Utd fan, but if all England footballers had his work ethic and training regime, maybe we would be more successful on the international scene. To suggest his success is now coming to him in the same vein as Ronnie Biggs earned it just shows how out of touch this book is with reality. Why must we always slate England players, and begrudge them reward, yet lament the talents of other footballing nations.
If you want a summary, this simply cannot be classed as a book at all. It is a collection of the authors newspaper articles, which date from 2000. Most of the articles are completely out of date, and nothing inter-connects. There is no single message trying to be conveyed. It's simply a set of newspaper waffle'ings. You cannot compare each profile, as what he writes about Anelka, is completely different to Kaka is completely different to Beckham, is completely different to Cantona and so on. I really do not know if we are supposed to compare the profiles or what. Its completely disjointed.
I'm very disappointed and feel conned into this as I thought it was a book about the Football Men running the game - in effect the author appears to be cashing in on previously published news articles.
This should be really re-branded as a collection of papers, and not sold as a book.
The football media is usually plagued with rehashed stories that bore the fan to death. It is then refreshing to see an author reveal his close encounters and interviews with the footballing elite. From Wengers close purchase of Ronaldo to Ashley Coles ludicrous sale from Arsenal to Chelsea, there will be many things in this book that will intrigue you.