Inverting the Pyramid: The History of Football Tactics by Jonathan Wilson

Filed under:History,Sports — posted by Randolph on August 11, 2020 @ 4:58 pm

This book discusses the history of football (Am. soccer) through different cultures, following major figures and how they affected the game’s strategies. To that end, it certainly delivered what it promised, but I found it a bit lacking.

There are a lot of people discussed that I found it difficult to keep track of. Maybe in the U.S., we aren’t exposed to these people. At each evolutionary phase of the game, you have one or two significant people as the proponent of change, one or more opposing it, and any number of players on both sides of the pitch. For me, this made it a bit difficult to follow.

The book has a lot of images of the pitch of various games, identifying the players on both sides. Some of them are even diagramed suggesting strategies or tactics involved. This was a big selling point of the book for me, but the discussion never references the diagrams. It discusses the players, and you can figure out which image is involved, but it does not use the diagrams to further the discussion and understanding. Second, the diagrams are often a few pages removed from the discussion, so it requires flipping back and forth a lot. The diagrams on the different images are never referenced, so they only raise questions that are never answered.

I did not find the book particularly bad, just disappointing. If you have an interesting in football’s history, you will probably enjoy the book. Otherwise, I’m sure there are better available.

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image: detail of installation by Bronwyn Lace