A Life in Football
by Egon Theiner & Elisabeth Schlammerl

Liberties Press, £10.99
Reviewed by Jonathan O'Brien
From WSC 259 September 2008 

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Giovanni Trapattoni couldn’t have enjoyed a smoother entrance to the Republic of Ireland job. An initial whirlwind of adulatory obeisance was followed by two inept friendly performances that helpfully dampened down expectations, though Trap was wily enough not to lose either game.

The Hard Life and High Times of Malcolm Allison
by David Tossell
Mainstream, £16.99
Reviewed by Harry Pearson
From WSC 262 December 2008 

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I once met Malcolm Allison in a pub in County Durham. The thing that struck me about Big Mal was that he was really quite small. Admittedly he was by that stage an elderly man, but the fact is that in football “bigness” has always been about more than mere physical stature.

Portait of a Winner
by Gabriele Marcotti
Bantam, £18.99
Reviewed by Matthew Barker
From WSC 263 January 2009 

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Gabriele Marcotti’s profile of Fabio Capello is a brisk (though at 400-plus pages not short) summary of the England coach’s career, putting his appointment in charge of the national team in the context of his achievements at club level. After the briefest of glimpses at his childhood and family background we’re off and running, rounding-up a quietly distinguished playing career: beginnings with Spal; the big move to Roma under early influence Helenio Herrera; joining Juventus; that azzurri goal at Wembley; and on to Milan. One constant that features in the various anecdotes and reminiscences is of a player old before his time, a bit of a loner, a little too focused, a little too intense. Classic managerial material in, other words.

by Wilf McGuinness with Ivan Ponting
Know the Score, £17.99
Reviewed by Joyce Woolridge
From WSC 265 March 2009 

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Roy Keane’s response to his recent managerial difficulties was to grow a patriarchal, piebald beard. At least he could shave it off after a few days. Wilf McGuinness’s hair began to fall out in clumps and turn white when he was “relieved of his duties” at Manchester United and all he could do was briefly sport a trimmed ladies’ wig until an overenthusiastic Greek goal celebration dislodged it. McGuinness could teach Keano a thing or two about stress. As he says in his introduction, football has given him some tremendous highs, but has also “shattered his world” on several occasions.

by Don Shaw
Ebury Press, £16.99
Reviewed by Peter Gutteridge
From WSC 268 June 2009 

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The story of Brian Clough’s triumphs at Derby County and his fractious relationship with chairman Sam Longson has been told many times. Now we have another film and book, The Damned United, in which Clough’s supposed inner demons are explored. It is therefore a huge challenge for Don Shaw to produce a fresh look at this key period of Derby’s history – but he succeeds.

Malcolm Allison, Joe Mercer and Manchester City
by Colin Shindler
Mainstream, £17.99
Reviewed by Ian Farrell
From WSC 268 June 2009 

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Back in the late Nineties, Colin Shindler’s Manchester United Ruined My Life became one of football writing’s biggest break-out hits, earning its author plenty of mainstream praise, a spin-off TV documentary, and, it has to be said, a fair amount of criticism, amid suggestions that it was just a Manchester City version of Fever Pitch. Such carping about merely putting his own club’s spin on a recent success is clearly of no concern to Shindler if the strangely familiar premise of his latest work is anything to go by: a piece of nostalgic ­“faction” about a big-mouthed, larger-than-life coach battling for control... of Man City. In fact, given that its release has been timed to follow that of The Damned United’s much-hyped film version, it doesn’t look like Shindler and his publisher’s publicity department mind one little bit if you make the comparison. Now that I’ve done their bidding, I’ll say this: they’re nothing like each other.

An Intimate Portrait of Football’s Last Romantic
by Ian Ridley
Simon & Schuster, £16.99
Reviewed by Harry Pearson
From WSC 270 August 2009 

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It’s a popular notion that silence is enigmatic. “Still waters run deep,” we say. Some people, however, can talk a hell of a lot yet remain unfathomable. Kevin Keegan is a veritable babbling brook, yet despite the fact he rarely seems to have shut up for four decades the motivations behind key decisions at important times in his life appear oddly mysterious.

Ferguson and Shankly
by Oliver Holt
Pan, £8.99
Reviewed by David Stubbs
From WSC 250 December 2007

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Sir Alex Ferguson and Bill Shankly have some things in common, opines Oliver Holt, not least in their sharing of the sentiments expressed in the title to this double biography. For Ferguson, the need to prevail – to compensate, perhaps, for the setbacks and disappointments of his early working life – was deep-dyed. He was even known, when a game of cards with his players wasn’t going well, to chuck the entire pack across the coach in fearsome, capillary-bursting pique. As for Shanks, he outlined the attitudes that made him practically a hermit to football in an uncharacteristically revealing letter to a journalist in 1955. “I used to think that it would be better to die than to lose,” he wrote. “To enable me to reach the top, I went to all extremes, no woman, no smoking, early to bed – this went for years, but it was worthwhile.”

The Autobiography of Ian Holloway
Green Umbrella, £16.99
Reviewed by Matt Nation
From WSC 250 December 2007

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Although Ian Holloway himself admits to being “not a particularly nice kid”, it doesn’t appear to have stopped his eye for a wrong ’un extending into adult life. After Ollie is dropped as a low-paid teenager at Bristol Rovers, Mike Channon attempts to console him by first by offering him £1,000 and then snatching it away at the last second. Three lines later, however, Channon is described as a “fantastic bloke”. Both Bobby Gould’s and Dave Bassett’s man-management skills are (once again) shown to be about as sensitive as a nipple wrench in the bogs, yet Ollie “likes” and “respects” his former gaffers. Only with Wally Downes does Ollie eschew praise with faint damnation in favour of a full-on, and fully deserved, kicking after the former Wimbledon man cracked wise about the new boy’s wife’s chemotherapy.

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