The Necessary Skills To Be A Great Gaffer
by Musa Okwonga
Serpent's Tail, £9.99
Reviewed by Pete Green
From WSC 284 October 2010

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We've all questioned whether football management is really the arcane practice it's made out to be. And we know those simulations, however "authentic" they become, must be a million miles from reality. But there isn't a Football Manager addict alive who hasn't indulged themselves just a little by wondering idly, as they've steered Huddersfield Town to a ninth consecutive Champions League title, whether they could be the new Clough or Shankly given a pop at the real thing.

The Peter Taylor Story Volume One
by Wendy Dickinson & Stafford Hildred
Matador, £17.99
Reviewed by Harry Pearson
From WSC 286 December 2010

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Gus van Sant makes films – Elephant, Final Days – that focus on a series of incidents viewed from complex mesh of different viewpoints. Maybe one day he'll turn his attention to the story of Brian Clough. Certainly there are already more than enough angles available on the bookshelves. Indeed, with new volumes appearing almost monthly (two more Clough biographies are slated for next year, and another one on Don Revie is on the way) it's hard to avoid a feeling that what we have here might be, to bowdlerise the words of Nigel Tufnell, "too much perspective".

Manchester United 1972-1977
by Sean Egan
Cherry Red Books, £17.99
Reviewed by Joyce Woolridge
From WSC 290 April 2011

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"We wanted a gentleman as well as a good football manager," pronounced Manchester United chairman Louis Edwards on appointing Dave Sexton, simultaneously delivering a hefty backhanded swipe at the previous incumbent, Tommy Docherty. In this heavyweight volume (literally – it runs to 578 closely packed pages with appendices of player biographies and statistical tables), Sean Egan provides more than ample evidence for the case for and against Edwards's verdict on the United manager who has probably divided opinions most sharply, both during his time at the helm and since.

The Rivals Who Changed the Face of English football
by Roger Hermiston
Mainstream, £10.99
Reviewed by Roger Titford
From WSC 293 July 2011

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There has been such a veritable swath of titles about these two managers in the last few years that you would imagine a joint honours degree in Cloughology and Revienomics to be possible. Is there space for yet more? Yes, this is a terrific read. Roger Hermiston has an easy and mature style. His research looks meticulous yet is modestly displayed. He is a journalist rather than a writer and it shows in the quality of access he gains and the digging he does.

by Bobby Gould and David Instone
Thomas Publications, £15.99
Reviewed by Ed Wilson
From WSC 294 August 2011

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As a goalkeeper-clattering centre-forward, Bobby Gould played for nine clubs across the Football League, from Arsenal to Hereford United. His managerial career included an FA Cup win with Wimbledon, relegation with West Brom and a failed tilt at World Cup qualification with Wales. It's probably safe to assume, then, that he didn't struggle for raw material when putting this autobiography together.

Scotland's Great Football Bosses
by Michael Grant & Rob Robertson
Birlinn, £18.99
Reviewed by Craig McCracken
From WSC 298 December 2011

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Scotland's uncanny knack of producing football managers of the highest calibre over the past century continues to perplex and fascinate in equal measure. Few footballing subjects have inspired as much analysis, with Michael Grant and Rob Robertson's book being the latest addition to this busy genre.

Reluctant Champion
by Andrew Fagan and Mark Platt
Aurum Press, £20
Reviewed by Seb Patrick
From WSC 300 February 2012

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By anyone's standards, Joe Fagan was a remarkable success as a manager. In the first of just two seasons in the top job at Anfield, a treble of trophies that included becoming the fourth and last English manager to date to win the European Cup immediately guaranteed his place in history. But unlike the men who preceded and succeeded him, Fagan has generally survived in the records only as a name, rather than as a personality.

Memories of Matt Busby, Jimmy Murphy and Manchester United
by Keith Dewhurst
Yellow Jersey Press, £8.99
Reviewed by Joyce Woolridge
From WSC 302 April 2012

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"It seems almost incredible that the best team in Europe, and one of most thrilling in history, was run by two elderly men who had theories, put players together accordingly and then more or less let them get on with it." Those two elderly men were Matt Busby and his assistant Jimmy Murphy, the hero of Keith Dewhurst's masterly memoir of a partnership that began in a stuffy Nissen hut at the Army Recreation Centre in Bari in the summer of 1945.

A quest to reclaim the soul of football by leading the world's ultimate underdogs to glory
by Paul Watson
Profile Books, £12.99
Reviewed by Nick Dorrington
From WSC 303 May 2012

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"Pohnpei," read the Wikipedia article, "have never registered a win." That sentence alone was enough to pique the interest of frustrated football writer Paul Watson, who was sick of regurgitating news and writing profiles of players he had barely heard of. Searching for a national team bad enough to give them a chance of earning an international cap, he and flatmate Matt Conrad stumbled across Pohnpei, a tiny island in the Pacific ocean whose football team seemed to fit the bill.

Searching for the real Steve Coppell
by Stuart Roach
Know The Score Books, £17.99
Reviewed by Roger Titford
From WSC 277 March 2010

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Is Steve Coppell interesting enough to merit a second biography? Reading-based journalist Stuart Roach believes he is and seeks to add spice with the sub-title “Searching for the real Steve Coppell”. As an organising principle this fails simply because there are no false or pretend Steve Coppells. What you hear from Steve is what there is – it’s one of his distinguishing characteristics. After 200 pages Roach predictably admits defeat – he “remains a footballing enigma”.

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