Posts Tagged ‘book’

Harry Redknapp
“Always Managing”
Reviewed by Rob Shepherd

harry-redknapp-autobiography-585x900Published by Ebury Press.

ISBN: 978-0-09191787-6

Harry Redknapp is one of those football managers who falls into the Marmite category – you either love him or hate him.

There is one thing that is certain though; life has never been dull at any of the clubs he has managed over the past 30-odd years.

Within the game Redknapp is highly respected and regarded as a far more astute tactician than those who have painted him merely as a wheeler – dealer wide-boy.

Above all though Redknapp believes that even though the role of a football manager has changed since he started at out as Bobby Moore’s assistant at Oxford City in the late Seventies many of the principles remain the same, with man management the key.

Harry’s autobiography “Always Managing” is a jocular journey through his career which started as a young winger at West Ham in the Sixties.

After his playing career fizzled out in the United Sates, Redknapp was jobless for a while and was working as a mini-cab driver.

But after the strange period with Moore at Oxford, Redknapp got a break at Bournemouth, before emerging as a top level boss with West Ham, Portsmouth (twice) Southampton, Tottenham and QPR.

Redknapp parted company with Rangers earlier this year when it was clear that the club lacked the squad to stay in the PL. He had led them back to the top flight having inherited an over bloated, over-paid squad when he succeeded Mark Hughes two years ago.

One of the constant themes in the book is that ultimately, no matter how good a manager is, success can only be achieved when a club has enough quality players in it’s squad for the level they are playing at.

He suggests that had Jose Mourinho taken over QPR when he did then he would have been unlikely to keep them up either.

Inevitably this book is laced with humour and some wonderful anecdotes. Redknapp also addresses the issue of the High Court Case over tax (he was cleared of all charges) and how that affected him getting the England job ahead of Roy Hodsgon.

Redknapp concludes: “Football, like life, isn’t always about winning – the Premiership, the Champions League and the rest of it.”

“For most of us, like life, it’s about staying afloat and doing the best with the hand you have got, looking to build something worthwhile, never giving in, and trying – amidst all this – not to forget to love every minute of it.”

BB Rating: 9.5/10


Matt Dickinson
“Bobby Moore: The Man in Full”
Reviewed by Richard Bowdery

Published by Yellow Jersey Press

ISBN-13: 978-0224091725


To bastardize a Winston Churchill quote: Bobby Moore was a gentleman, wrapped in a facade inside an enigma. In other words he was a very private man.

Brian Glanville, the doyen of football writers, knew Moore for nearly 40 years, but wasn’t sure he really knew him.

BobbyMooreBookMichael Parkinson, who made a career of getting beneath the surface of his interviewees, has said: “You loved him because he was so friendly but, when you stopped to think, you realized you knew bugger all about him.”

Even in his darkest hour, stricken with terminal cancer at the young age of 51, he kept his illness secret, only making it public shortly before his death.

Credit, therefore, must go to journalist Matt Dickinson who, with this biography, has succeeded in peeling away the layers that surrounded the legend, to reveal a life that was by turns heroic and tragic.

But in dealing with the life story of Bobby Moore, who has been called the ‘patron saint of English football’, the author could have veered towards sycophancy.

Instead we are presented with an honest, even-handed assessment of Moore from what must have been hours and hours of research carried out among family, friends, other journalists and former teammates and colleagues from the world of football.

As you would expect from such a renowned wordsmith the biography he crafts is both engaging and illuminating.

For instance, were you aware that Moore suffered from testicular cancer in 1964? Or that as Southend manager he turned up to one match, drunk? Or that Elton John approached him about managing Watford?

The book highlights Moore’s highs and lows in detail, from his receiving the World Cup from Her Majesty the Queen to his being ejected from Upton Park for not having a valid ticket.

In between we read about West Ham manager Ron Greenwood’s desire to build a team around ‘Mooro’; Moore’s business ventures which involved some shady characters; the arrest in Bogota prior to the 1970 World Cup Finals for allegedly stealing a bracelet; how Moore was snubbed by club and country after his retirement; his attempts at football management; the divorce from his childhood sweetheart; and how cancer finally took the life of this icon.

BB Rating: 9/10



One Bombshell After Another…
BOBBY’S Roy Dalley Gives His Take on ‘Bobby Moore: The Man in Full’

by Roy Dalley.

One suspects if you dumped a fluffy white cat onto Matt Dickinson’s lap he would pass an audition for the next James Bond movie.

He’s the journalist who emerged from the disgruntled press pack to apply the coup de grace to Glenn Hoddle’s tenure as England manager when his critique of Hoddle’s rather extreme interpretation of Karma was splashed on the front page of The Times.

As if to prove he hasn’t mellowed, Dickinson stuck the boot into Brian Clough on the Times’ sports pages last month while almost everyone else paid nothing but tribute on the 10th anniversary of his passing.

And he as good as admits his forefinger was hovering above a metaphorical big red button as he sat down to research and write Bobby Moore The Man In Full.

Dickinson writes in his Prologue: “He is held up as a man without blemish but could he really be that perfect? Could anyone? To me, the idyll seemed implausible. It wasn’t that I thought the eulogies were untrue; rather I could not believe they represented the whole truth. There is chaos and complexity in every life. Shit happens, even to saints.”

Uh oh.

Certainly it soon becomes apparent that Moore was blessed and cursed in equally monumental measures. Music folklore contains the legend of Robert Johnson, a blues guitarist and singer of modest repute, who only found his chops and success after selling his soul on a crossroads in the Mississippi Delta.

MooreBookIt’s just as preposterous, of course, to suggest Moore found his own crossroads somewhere in the Thames Delta, yet there is no doubt his rise and fall contains all the chief ingredients required of a Hollywood film script.

Moore was born into a world at war in an area a few miles east of London that was heavily bombed by the German Luftwaffe. (Talk about trying to get your retaliation in first.) He was a chubby schoolboy who suffered from taunts of ‘Fatso’ from the back of the class, and the scouting report that earned him an apprenticeship at West Ham was hardly glowing: “Whilst he would not set the world alight, this boy certainly impressed me with his tenacity and industry.”

But the planets seemed to align in Moore’s favour. First he was thrust into the orbit of one of the game’s most progressive and imaginative thinkers in senior pro Malcolm Allison. The random good fortune of geography meant he got lifts home from training from Big Mal, which doubled as confidence boosting exercises as Allison opened Moore’s eyes to new possibilities on the field of play.

That luck was multiplied when Ron Greenwood arrived as manager and effectively changed the way the game was played in England to accommodate Moore in the first-team, parachuting him in as a second central defender in an era commonly deploying only one centre-half between two full-backs.

The rest, as they say, is history… but Dickinson is quick to remind us that the brightest light produces the darkest shadow. Battles with cancer, Greenwood, the bottle, England manager Alf Ramsey, and even the Colombian Police, would follow. Then there were arson attacks on no less than three of Moore’s business premises as he tried to rebuild his life after the game he served so well effectively washed its hands of him.

Moore’s contemporaries queue up to offer their loving reminiscences and anecdotes, yet also speak of a private man seemingly cocooned by his thoughts and fears.

Perhaps Moore really was fully aware of his destiny all along?

He seemed lost in his thoughts on the couple of occasions I encountered the great man. The first time was after a midweek match at Brentford sometime in the very late 70’s or early 80’s, and although his star was inexplicably on the wane it felt incongrous to see him standing alone at the rear of the main stand, staring at nothing in particular.

Coincidentally I was with Rob Shepherd, founder of Bobbyfc, who I had to cajole into going over to introduce ourselves, at that time a couple of teenage football-writing wannabes. Shep, I can reveal, is no shrinking violet (on another occasion we bumped into Little Richard while he was flogging his autobiography and Shep demanded: “Oi Little, Little! Gissa book!”) but such was his awe, as a West Ham fan, he took some persuading.

The last time I saw Moore was in the press room at QPR during the 92-93 season. It was an area about 20 feet square with a bar in the corner pumping out free pints of Guinness (QPR’s shirt sponsors at the time) and populated by about 20 journalists.

Moore, as is the wont of all great footballers, had found space, though now it was in order to stand alone, leaning with his back against a wall, almost hiding under a cap with his collar turned up. His skin was yellow.

I sat quietly and stole glances and wondered if I should ask if he’d like a cup of tea or something, yet his body language suggested, very politely, to Leave Me Alone. He was only weeks from making his final pass though we didn’t know it. But it was obvious something was seriously wrong and it was also heart breaking. Moore, as always, kept his woes to himself, but who can blame him for that having already given everything of himself to his country?

Like that famous image of Moore held aloft by his team-mates with the World Cup in his clutch, he remains the England captain head and shoulders above all other England captains.

As Michael Caine pointed out: “It was the cometh the moment, cometh the man. It’s a bit like a messiah. You know, out of the gloom of the fifties… he just came, like a gleam of light.”

(*Dickinson, thankfully, plays a blinder in what is I daresay a fair representation and portrayal. The book jacket informs of a £20 cover price though I got mine in a supermarket for just nine quid. Yet after reacquainting myself with Moore once again I can think of no good reason not to send the balance to the Bobby Moore Fund.)


The Age of Innocence – Football in the 1970s
Edited by Reuel Golden

Published by Taschen

football_in_the_70s_fo_gb_3d_05781_1406131009_id_811010ISBN 978-3-8365-4797-0

For those who lived through the seventies, The Age of Innocence will evoke memories of an era when football seemed simpler, less aloof and less remote from the fans. A time when, for instance, a West Ham fan could pop down to an East End pub and find Bobby Moore at the bar buying drinks for Harry Redknapp and Frank Lampard Snr. In short, a time when you could reach out and touch your heroes.

This book beautifully captures that age and will appeal not only to those who witnessed it first-hand but also to those who love the game, its history and its flamboyance.

It opens with introductory essays from four of football journalism’s top writers:

• Brian Glanville who recalls the European Cup in the 70s • David Goldblatt who considers how the game become truly global during this time • Rob Hughes who looks at the World Cups played in that decade • Barney Ronay who considers this age of innocence.

Then it allows the photographs to do the talking. And at over 300 hundred pages this weighty tome is full of them, reproduced in both colour, and black and white.

What memories they evoke.

Who can forget Pele and Bobby Moore embracing at the end of the Brazil versus England game during the 1970 World Cup? Or Bobby Charlton leading out his Manchester United team mates in his 606th and final league game for the Red Devils, in 1973? Those moments in time are reproduced here in all their glory.

There is even a picture of Jack Charlton having a crafty fag during training – a ritual that Bobby FC covered in its This Was the Week column.

But the book doesn’t restrict itself to the English game. There are plenty of images from around the world of football including (and this is one of my favourites) a shot of Diego Maradona in 1977 with his head under a hair dryer fixing his perm, while reading a soccer magazine.

Other football greats are captured through the lens of a camera including Eusébio, Franz Beckenbauer and Johan Cruyff, as well as great teams such as Holland, Italy and Argentina.

Although many of the pictures feature players in the heat of battle, quite a few show the quieter, less intense side of football.

For instance, there’s a picture of Helmut Schőn, West Germany’s World Cup winning coach, watering his garden a few weeks after his 1974 triumph.

Then there is perhaps the world’s greatest player, Pele, caught on camera during a TV interview with the legendary Johnny Carson on his The Tonight Show.

There is even a very topical shot: the Russian army in the stands at Dynamo Kiev’s stadium during an international against France, held in what is now the Ukraine. It begs the question, what would happen to the players from the USSR if they lost?

If I do take issue with this coffee-table book at all, it is where it’s billed the 70s as ‘footballs most beautiful era’. Yes there was some wonderful moments but it was also a time of cynical aggression on the pitch and violence off it.  This ugly side of the game is not really shown in any depth, though, to be fair, it does include one or two representative pictures.

My favourite element in the book is where the words and pictures gel so perfectly. The picture is of George Best and the words sum it up so wonderfully.


Turn to page 79 and you’ll see George standing alongside a sleek sports car, outside his boutique shop. Then flip (well perhaps not, it is a big book) to the back cover and you’ll read his quote: “I spent a lot of money on booze, birds and fast cars. The rest I just squandered.” Magical.

The book closes with a 1970s dream team selected by one of the contributors. I won’t spoil it for you by naming the eleven but I’m sure many may well disagree with the line-up. What I will say is that two British players are included. I defy anyone to question their inclusion.

This is a publication you can turn to again and again and never tire of recalling those wonderful memories of a bygone age when football really did seem so much simpler, less aloof and less remote.

BB rating 8/10

by Richard Bowdery.


Alex Ferguson:
“My Autobiography”

Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton

ISBN : Hardback : 978 0 340 91939 2
E Book : 978 1 848 94863 1

It is without doubt the football book of 2013.

It is indeed one of the best football books of all time.

In terms of global sales it is already blockbuster – but unlike so many autobiographies this one has sold not just because of the big name, it is has sold so well because it is underpinned by big content too.

Alex Ferguson: My Autobiography is not just a gripping read; it is a must read.
On the day of its publication it caused a furore in the Salman Rushdie league.
Sensational headline followed sensational headline as the juicy paragraphs slamming Beckham, Keane, Liverpool, The FA et al were ripped from the pages.

But in most cases the context was lost.

3d_alex_ferguson__AutoThere are many football books which after they have been plundered by the press aren’t worth buying because essentially you’ve read it all. This is not this case with Fergie’s book which has been impressively ghosted by Daily Telegraph sports writer Paul Hayward.

Paul does not confuse matters by trying to add too much flowery prose or gild the lilly. When you read this book it’s as if you are sat by the fireside of a grand drawing room in a winged leather chair facing Fergie similarly sat, sharing a glass of fine red wine or single malt whiskey and listening to the Big Man tell it as it is. And you don’t want to leave.

Although it is an autobiography, Fergie’s early years are skated over, since that part of his life are covered in a previous tome “Managing my Life” which reached it’s climax when Manchester United won the Champions League in 1999.

That said, I would still have liked to have read a bit more about Eric Cantona and Bryan Robson.

Nevertheless the book takes the reader on a fascinating journey from the turn of the Millennium to Ferguson’s retirement in May with Manchester United crowned Champions again.

The chapters on David Beckham, Roy Keane and Cristiano Ronaldo are utterly compelling.

Although he tears Beckham apart for “selling out to celebrity” it is not just the character assassination as was depicted when the newspapers first got hold of the book.

The same goes with Keane. There is context – although ultimately his appraisal of the Irishman is damning.

In contrast Ronaldo is lavished with praise.

There are also many rich anecdotal asides. For instance Ferguson points out Ryan Giggs only won five penalties in a 20 year career because the player refused to go down. Perhaps Giggs ought to take a firmer hand now he is a coach at the club…

But it is far more than just a book about Fergie’s unparalleled success at Manchester United. It is a book that gets to the heart and soul of football and how much it has changed since he started out as a young manager at St. Mirren in the Seventies.

It is a must read for every football supporter who wants to see the bigger picture …even those other Reds, Liverpool fans.

BB Rating: 10/10

By Rob Shepherd.

Glenn Hoddle
“My 1998 World Cup Story”

Publisher: Andre Deutsch

ISBN-13: 978-0233994239

Glenn Hoddle has hit back at claims made by David Beckham in his autobiography.

Beckham, whose book is featherweight in content compared to Sir Alex Ferguson’s heavyweight block buster, says that Hoddle added to the “feeding frenzy” that the player suffered after getting a red car against Argentina at France 98.

Hoddle’s post match comment that “If he [Beckham] had stayed on the pitch and we had 11 against 11, I believe we would have won” was taken as a pointed remark by Beckham and contributed to the vitriolic response.

Beckham said; “He showed his anger and irritation with me. It definitely fed the frenzy.

“He didn’t blame me, exactly, but he made it clear that he thought that my mistake cost England the game”, the 38-year-old Beckham says in his book. “I found his interview difficult to take. He showed his anger and irritation with me. It definitely fed the frenzy.”

HoddleMyWorldCupStoryBut Hoddle said “I am really sorry to hear that David Beckham thinks I fed the frenzy of criticism against him after his sending-off in the World Cup tie with Argentina. Nothing could have been further from my mind at the time, and certainly not since.

“Any manager would say, as I did immediately after the game, that their team would have stood a better chance with 11 men than with 10.”

And Reading through Hoddle’s book, ‘My 1998 World Cup Story’, the former England manager does not really savage Beckham in the chapter about the 3-2 quarter final defeat to Argentina. Indeed he points out that he thought it was no more than a yellow and added: “How ever made I was with David I was furious with the referee.”

At the time Hoddle though displayed a general coldness and aloofness towards Beckham before and after that incident. That comes across in Hoddle’s book.
But on the whole, going through Hoddle’s diary of the whole 1998 campaign again, much of it seems a fairly tame if decent review of the road that ended in St Etienne rather than Paris.

But at the time there was a lot of unrest among the squad when the book was released just a few months after the tournament, especially Hoddle lifting the lid on how badly Paul Gascoigne took the news that he was the be axed from the squad.

Hoddle lost the trust of several senior players who believe he broke the taboo of opening the dressing room door whilst he was still in charge.

Indeed the publication loosened his grip on the job which he lost when expanded on his religious beliefs and made a bizarre comment about the handicapped and the afterlife.

BB Rating: 7/10

by Rob Shepherd


Fergie’s Tales of The Unexpected Did SAF Give Credit Where it Was Due..?

By Rob Shepherd.

Sir Alex Ferguson’s new book is not only a best-seller it has caused a media frenzy. Bizarrely some journalists are even complaining Fergie has been a bit too frank. Talk about killing the goose that lays golden eggs…

Yes, the timing of publication could have been better given it casts a shadow over successor David Moyes so soon into his reign. Then again; why not get it over and done while Moyes at least has a bit of his honeymoon period left..?

Rarely has an autobiography of any sort, let alone a soccer one, attracted such interest and inspection.

When the book was launched and Ferguson held court at a press conference in London’s Pall Mall, it was akin to listening to a sermon front the Mount: The Gospel according Fergie as the Manchester United manager of 27 years responded – sometimes sharply – to questions on the big issues he had raised.

Fergie lifted the lid on why David Beckham had to go, how Roy Keane lost the plot, his loathing of Liverpool and Rafa Benitez, his admiration for Cristiano Ronaldo, why he turned England down twice…..

The explosive revelations went on and on, there was barely enough space on the sports pages the next day to cope with the headlines.

Credit Due..?

Yet in the feeding frenzy one name was distinctly absent from scrutiny.

He will be in there somewhere of course and it will be fascinating how much credit – or otherwise – Ferguson pays to this player who more than any other shaped the silverware laden years (38 trophies) of The Fergie Era which began in 1986.

Eric Cantona.

ERIC CANTONAManchester United FC and France InternationalUniversal...

Cantona brought confidence and a swagger to United that had been missing

While home-grown players Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes were major and pretty much constant themes through the glory years, it was the Frenchman Cantona, to borrow a line from Ian Drury, who was the catalyst who sparked a revolution.

Remember, when Cantona joined United in December 1992 they had yet to win a league tile under Ferguson.

The previous season Cantona had in fact been a major influence on a different United winning the last Divison One championship when he was at Leeds.

When Cantona arrived United were in contention but looked as though they would blow it again.

By the end of the season they had landed the first Premier League tittle, United’s first top flight success in 26 years.

Cantona turned a very good team into what would become a great one.
He added a different dimension to the side not just in the way he played but with his attitude.

Confidence bordering on arrogance is often the characteristic of champions. Cantona had it in spades.

Cantona injected that type of confidence into a highly talented United team that had at crucial times been pitted with self-doubt. He did so with supreme skill and style counterpointed by brooding menace and sometimes raw aggression.

Cantona’s goals and guile shaped United not only for that season but even after he retired five years later.

In many ways even if there were language barriers it was Cantona, the rebel from Marseille, who understood and interpreted the message Ferguson, the rebel from Glasgow, was trying to put across to the rest.

They had much in common. Deep thinkers and readers they were rebels with a common cause.

Ferguson spoke at length about Cantona in his first autobiography 14 years ago true enough. But Cantona’s part in the United story in Ferguson’s success remains vital.

Phone Call

And all this from a player who Ferguson HADN’T even considered buying.

To remind you: The shock £1.2 million move from Leeds United came about because LEEDS chairman Bill Fotherby had rung United asking whether they could buy left back Dennis Irwin from them.

Ferguson said no. But a few days later rang back and asked if Cantona was available.

At the time Mark Hughes and Brian McClair had been in erratic form. Summer signing Dion Dublin had broken his leg. Bids to sign David Hirst, Matthew Le Tissier and Brian Deane had all failed.

Fotherby informed manager Howard Wilkinson, who much to the chairman’s shock agreed to sell his maverick striker.


Fergie can’t believe his luck pinching Cantona from Leeds

So, Cantona, L’enfant Terrible as he had been known during a troubled time in his native France, became Un Devil Rouge and to the United fans would become Eric The King.

In this second autobiography Ferguson inevitably pays a lot of attention to events since the Treble season of 1999, a year after Cantona had departed. And as he has shown there are plenty of tales to tell.

He points out that Cristiano Ronaldo is the most talented player who has played under him in his years at United.

But in the grand scheme of Ferguson’s golden reign as Manchester United manager Eric Cantona remains the most significant player – as shown below;

Terry Venables
“The Making of the Team: Venables’ England”

VenablesTMOTTTerry Venables has had many books written by him and about him. Some are very good and others are bad and some are plain ugly. Venners even co-wrote a cult TV series in the 70’s called ‘Hazel’ which was a cross between Minder and Lovejoy.

In terms of literary merit, this one (which was written in collaboration with Jane Nottage, who was briefly Paul Gascoigne’s Girl Friday in Rome) is, well, pretty bland.

But given that it plots how Venables took over from Graham Taylor and shaped the Euro ’96 campaign, which for a while raised the status of the England team to near respectability, there are some fascinating insights into El Tel’s team building philosophy.

In that sense it explains why so many England players of a certain era swear that Venables was the best England coach they ever worked with.

Which is why Gary Neville, a Venables disciple, should suggest to current boss Roy Hodgson that he ought to go out and buy it now and learn a few things ……and quickly!

BB rating: 7/10