I am a self confessed football fanatic and the reason I started Football CFB is because I watch a silly amount of football each week and consume a crazy amount of football content each week online, by reading books and watching documentaries.
In this article, I have picked out my top 10 footballing reads from over the last year or two.
1. Done Deal by Daniel Geey
If you are looking for an insightful, enlightening insight into the inner workings of Modern football then this is the book for you.
Whether it is a manager being sacked, the signing of a new star player, television rights negotiations, player misconduct or multi-million-pound club takeovers, lawyers remain at the heart of all football business dealings. Written by leading Premier League lawyer Daniel Geey, who has dealt with all these incidents first hand, this highly accessible book explores the issues – from pitch to boardroom – that shape the modern game and how these impact leagues, clubs, players and fans.
Featuring insider anecdotes and expert contributions, Done Deal provides football fans with a fresh and authoritative perspective on all off-field football matters. One of my favourite reads in recent years.
2. The Manager by Mike Carson
If you are a fan who loves the insight of top coaches from the footballing world talking about how they’ve achieved and sustained success as well as battled back from failures then this is the book for you.
The Manager features 30 of the biggest names in football management who reveal what it takes to success in a management role. In The Manager they explain their methods, offer lessons they’ve learned along the way, and describe the decisions they make and the leadership they provide.
Managers featured in the book are: Roy Hodgson, Carlo Ancelotti, Arsène Wenger, Sam Allardyce, Roberto Mancini, José Mourinho, Brendan Rodgers, Harry Redknapp, Sir Alex Ferguson, Walter Smith, Mick McCarthy, Gerard Houllier, Tony Pulis, Martin O’Neill, Neil Warnock, Howard Wilkinson, Kevin Keegan, Dario Gradi, Andre Villas-Boas, David Moyes, Alex McLeish, Hope Powell, Martin Jol, Glenn Hoddle, Chris Hughton, David Platt, Paul Ince, and George Graham. An excellent read and incredible insight.
3. Sir Matt Busby: The Definitive Biography by Patrick Barclay
Sir Matt Busby is one of the icons of world football. He took Manchester United to unprecedented glory before seeing the club through their most painful tragedy and helped create the global entity that Manchester United is today.
A player with Manchester City and Liverpool before the Second World War, Busby remained at the forefront of football through four decades and made an extraordinary contribution to the game in terms of both style and substance. In this definitive biography, Patrick Barclay looks back at Busby’s phenomenal life and career, including the rise of the Busby Babes in the 1950s, the Munich disaster that claimed 23 lives and the Wembley victory ten years on that made United the first English team to win the European Cup. Denis Law, Pat Crerand and such other members of that great side as Alex Stepney, David Sadler and John Aston are among the host of voices testifying to the qualities that set Sir Matt apart.
This is the story of one of the greatest figures in football history, and of the making of a legacy that will last for ever from one of the best footballing writers in the game Patrick Barclay.
4. Barca – The Making of the Greatest Team in the world by Graham Hunter
If you love Spanish football then Graham Hunter’s books are the ones for you. For me this is his all time best work.
In my view this book is simply one of the best books about football you can read if you love the beautiful game and are in awe of the level that the Pep Guardiola Barcelona team operated at. It is far more than just a superficial, breathless account about a remarkable set of players and an equally remarkable coach, it is an in-depth and stunningly insightful book that reveals a deeper story that includes the club’s philosophy and values, its education of young players and its executive leadership. It is a story that can only be told by someone with exclusive access to key personalities in the club over an extended time and Graham is that man.
5. Saturday Bloody Saturday by Alastair Campbell and Paul Fletcher
I’ll be very honest – I am not a great reader of novels as I am more of a factual reader however this book CHANGED everything for me.
The book focuses around football manager Charlie Gordon who is struggling with one defeat after another at the club he loves. Only a decent Cup run is keeping him in work, but tensions are running close to the surface ahead of the next round: Chelsea away.
Footballers fall into two categories: artists or assassins. Soon Charlie is going to find out which players can deliver – and just how much pressure they can all stand.
Meanwhile, as the country prepares for a general election, one of the most dangerous political assassinations in the IRA’s history is being planned in London. An active service unit await the critical signal to proceed…
Both sides will converge on the capital for a result that will shake everyone’s lives, with consequences far beyond football.
Trust me when I say this, it is a MUST READ.
6. How Not to be a Professional Footballer by Paul Merson
Paul Merson has his critics but what an amazing footballer he was and what a great story teller he is. This book is arguably the most honest account of the ups and downs that a career as a high profile footballer in the limelight brings.
Merson was a prodigiously talented footballer in the 80s and 90s, gracing the upper echelons of the game – and the tabloid front pages – with his breathtakingly skills and larger-than-life off-field persona.
His much-publicised battles with gambling, drug and alcohol addiction are behind him now, and football fans continue to be drawn to his sharp footballing brain and playful antics on SkySports cult results show Soccer Saturday.
The book delights and entertains with a treasure chest of terrific anecdotes from a man who has never lost his love of football and his inimitable joie de vivre through a 25-year association with the Beautiful Game.
The DO NOTs include:
DO NOT adopt ‘Champagne’ Charlie Nicholas as your mentor
DO NOT share a house with Gazza
DO NOT regularly place £30,000 bets at the bookie’s
DO NOT get so drunk that you can’t remember the 90 minutes of football you just played in
DO NOT manage Walsall (at any cost)
How Not to be a Professional Footballer is a hugely entertaining, moving and laugh-out-loud funny story that I couldn’t put down once I started reading it.
7. Be Careful What You Wish For – Simon Jordon
There is no denying Simon Jordan splits opinion among football fans but I admire his no nonsense approach to radio broadcasting and writing.
Like him or not, you can’t dispute that he has a unique story.
Multimillionaire at 32. Youngest Premier League football club owner at 36. His club and a fortune lost at 42.
His book focuses on the premise of owning your childhood club – that’s the dream, isn’t it? Simon Jordan made his fortune building a mobile phone company from scratch. When he sold it for £75 million, he bought Crystal Palace FC, the club he’d supported as a boy, and led them into the Premier League.
Ten years later Palace was in administration and Jordan had lost nigh on everything. Be Careful What You Wish For lifts the lid on being the owner of a football club and how the game really works. Hopes and dreams sit alongside greed, self-interest, dodgy transfers, boardroom fights and dressing room dressing downs. Throughout no one is spared, least of all Jordan himself.
8. 5 League Titles and a Packet of Crisps – By Stevie Nicol (And Mark Donaldson)
Stevie Nicol. A boy from Troon made good. 5 league titles and a European Cup isn’t bad is it?
He became a mainstay in the record-breaking Liverpool sides that steamrollered their way to trophy after trophy. From the teams of Paisley and Fagan to Dalglish, he played dream football with the likes of Rush, Barnes, Beardsley, Aldridge, Whelan and McMahon. He topped it off with a Player of the Year award and represented his country in a World Cup.
It was laughter and glory all the way. Then he hit a brutal turning point in his life. It was hard to take. He drank too much. Kenny left. Souness arrived. He wore the captain’s armband and won an FA Cup… but it felt like the end.
Stevie Nicol: 5 League Titles and a Packet of Crisps is the entertaining autobiography of a man who took the good, bad and ugly of his football life on the chin, shrugged it off and ended up having the last laugh.
9. Pep Guardiola – Another Way of Winning by Guillem Balague
Any book with the foreword written by Sir Alex Ferguson is a must listen as is any book on the genius that is Pep Guardiola. The best coach in the modern era in my opinion (definitely the best post Ferguson).
Pep’ Guardiola has transformed Barcelona into arguably the greatest club side of all time, and this entertainingly perceptive biography explains how.
Guardiola spent the majority of his playing days with Barca and was an integral part of Johan Cruyff’s European Cup-winning ‘dream team’. But it was on retiring from playing that he really made his mark on the club. After travelling the world, he became a coach of the Barcelona reserve team, and a year later, in 2008, he was appointed the first-team manager. The club went on to win an unprecedented 13 of the 16 competitions they entered under his leadership, and he became the youngest ever manager to win the Champions League. Then, at the end of the 2012 season, after having been awarded the FIFA WORLD COACH OF THE YEAR, he resigned following four years of unprecedented achievement. He immediately became the most sought-after free-agent in football, and his next move was keenly anticipated.
Some call Guardiola’s influence on Barca revolution, others evolution. Whatever the answer, the impact he has had goes beyond football. He represents a style, a club, a country and even old-fashioned values, at a time when they seem so scarce. Guillem Balagué’s insightful book reveals how Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona played the ‘Beautiful Game’ – and won.
10. Pep’s City – The Making of a Superteam by Pol Ballús and Lu Martin
As I said Pep Guardiola for me is the best coach in the modern era.
So far, in just over three seasons in England, Pep Guardiola has built something the Premier League has never seen before: a team that dominates games like no other, scoring goals and collecting points and trophies at record-breaking pace.
Throughout that journey, the Spanish journalists Lu Martín and Pol Ballús have been embedded with the club, reporting this inside account of how a phenomenal team was constructed: from the recruitment of Guardiola himself, to the backroom staff that provide the platform for his team and the superstar players that have set a new standard in British football.
No other sportswriter has had this kind of access to Guardiola and his team during their three seasons in Manchester. The result is exclusive, in-depth interviews and profiles of every key figure at City, and the inside stories on the decisions that have shaped the team, including the defensive transformation that saw Guardiola change his goalkeeper and full-backs ahead of his record-breaking 100-point season of 2017-18; the dinner date with Sergio Agüero that changed the course of the City striker’s career; and close-ups on every big game in the thrilling finale to the 2018-19 title race.
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