Tag Archives: book review

Barcelona is the Best and You Know It: Graham Hunter’s 400-page Fanzine

FC Barcelona’s world-famous academy is no longer based at “La Masia,” the endearingly decrepit farmhouse in which Lionel Messi of Barcelonamany of Barca’s homegrown players spent their formative years. In 2011, the club moved its training complex to the shiny, modern Ciutat Esportiva Joan Gamper, which contains, among other things, an enormous sauna.

Over the last decade, Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta, Xavi Hernandez, Carles Puyol, Victor Valdes, Gerard Pique and Cesc Fabregas have graduated from the old, La Masia-based academy, where they learned drills like rondo, a kind of monkey-in-the-middle game that promotes quick passing and intelligent pressing. The place was legendary; as Graham Hunter explains in Barca: The Making of the Greatest Team in the World, it had become a byword for Barcelona’s unique philosophy, its more-than-a-club-ness.

In another era, the relocation might have provoked an angry backlash. But in early 2011 – a couple of months away from its second Champions League title in three seasons, cruising in La Liga, scoring brilliant goals just about every game – Barca could do no wrong. Twenty-eleven was also the year newly elected president Sandro Rosell decided that the club’s long-standing refusal to negotiate a jersey sponsorship constituted financial suicide, and quickly struck a deal with a Qatari airline – but not many people complained about that decision, either.

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Keep Your Day Job: Wayne Rooney Writes Another Terrible Book

At 27, Wayne Rooney is already a bona fide Manchester United legend. His goals are watched and analyzed around rooney bookthe world, his jerseys sell in ridiculous numbers, and his statistics speak for themselves. United recently unveiled a statue of Sir Alex Ferguson, and, if Rooney plays his cards right, he could be next in line for the bronze treatment.

Between games, or perhaps during summer vacations, Rooney has also managed to publish two autobiographies. Neither is very good.

Rooney’s new memoir, My Decade in the Premier League, picks up where Rooney: My Story left off. My Story was released about ten minutes after England’s penalty-shootout loss to Portugal in the quarterfinals of the 2006 World Cup. Red-carded midway through that game’s second half, Rooney had just become a national pariah, and, once he’d reached pariah-status – well, a book was inevitable.

The debate over whether the offense that earned Rooney that red card – “stamping” on Portuguese defender Ricardo Carvahlio – was indeed an intentional act of violence, as the ref believed, or merely a misunderstanding traceable to Rooney’s reputation for impulsive thuggery isn’t nearly as central to this latest autobiography. As Sir Alex Ferguson reminds us in the forward, My Decade is about a mature, level-headed Rooney, a Rooney for whom impulsive thuggery is a thing of the past.

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INFTH Book Review: All Or Nothing

At football’s European epicenter lies the world’s premier annual sporting competition. The Champions League shapes the
ambitions of clubs across the continent; all of them dreaming of the same ungainly, two-handled trophy. All or Nothing is the story of that tournament. The story of the teams, fans and players that make-up modern football’s most defining edifice.

Andy Brassell sets out to understand the Champions League’s transcendent influence on European club football, to examine how the tournament affects competitors big, small and in between. Unfortunately, Brassell’s account of one “season in the life of the Champions League” fails to compel. It’s not fresh, it’s not new and it’s not exciting. Moreover, only eight years after publication, it’s hopelessly out of date.

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INFTH Book Review: Morbo

Morbo. In the passionate world of Spanish football, where pigs’ heads fly from the stands and clubs take on quasi-political roles in the lives of millions, it is an undefinable source of intrigue which keeps the masses coming back for more. In his book, Phil Ball admits early on to the impossibility of clear translation, but nevertheless places the force at the center of his arguments. It is morbo, he writes, that is the essence of Spain’s national pastime. Morbo; the self-perpetuating, ever evolving creature which forms the hub of rivalries across the peninsula.

This view of the game – through the vitriolic, morbo ridden inter club relationships that make up Spanish professional football – is a novel one indeed. It treats football not so much as a tool for higher political wrangling, but as a phenomenon deserving of appreciation in its own right.

An expert in his field, Ball is an authoritative guide, one that understands the context of his subject. While consumption takes an appetite for basic politics, a sense of fun continually pervades; the one that keeps fans interested in football and readers interested in reading.

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