Still Dreaming

My Inside Account of the 2010 World Cup
by Gary Lineker
Simon & Schuster, £16.99
Reviewed by Ian Farrell
From WSC 285 November 2010

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If you've caught any of Gary Lineker's promotion for Still Dreaming, you might have picked up a distinct lack of enthusiasm from him. Having now read it, I can say that this is no self-deprecation. To be fair, books of this type are only really as interesting as the tournament they describe, and while England's campaign certainly wasn't the glorious triumph the publishers would've been hoping for, it wasn't the disaster they'd probably take as second-best either, despite what the papers would have you believe. France had a disaster, and there's undoubtedly a fascinating book to be written about it. Ours was merely a big disappointment, a damp squib. And turning material like that into a cracking read takes a very special literary talent, not an ex-goal poacher.

The book kicks off with a series of scene-setting chapters, followed by a diary for the football itself. Confusingly, these opening sections contain occasional present tense platitudes like "I feel Capello can make the difference this time", which reveal they were actually written before the tournament. Now given that it was due on the shelves less than six weeks after the final, this was probably a necessity, but it seems an odd decision to leave it as written with no later revision. As a consequence, parts of it read like a breezy newspaper preview published four months late. The squad overview, "Who's In, Who's Out, And Why", seems to have been penned before the final 23 was announced

This time-saving approach does, however, give you the chance to contrast the positive spin put on Capello's style pre-tournament with the way he is portrayed later. Charting most media flip-flopping on the Italian – as "single-minded" and "dignified" became "stubborn" and "miserable" – requires googling or thumbing back issues. Here it is handily presented in one book.

Still Dreaming claims to be an "inside account" of the World Cup, but as someone who watched it on a TV monitor, can he really give us the inside story on anything beyond what it's like to spend a month in a glass box with Mark Lawrenson? The game diary certainly aspires to nothing more than reminding you what you watched and the opinions shared are generally standard fare. Commissioning a World Cup account is a gamble and Lineker is personable enough, but you feel this is something both author and publisher wish had never gone beyond the idea stage. If you are a fan of Gary and the style of his MOTD links, make the most of this book, because I can't see there being a Still Continuing To Dream: My Inside Account of Brazil 2014.

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