do not mention the war

Archive for August, 2010|Monthly archive page

Inverting the Pyramid

In England, Football, Germany, History, Literature, Sport, World Cup on August 20, 2010 at 13:55

Jonathan Wilson: Inverting the Pyramid. The History of football tactics. London, 2009: Orion. 384p.

If anybody of my valued readers is interested in the history of football tactics, look no further, this is the book that explains it all. Superbly written, Wilson describes the development of football tactics from the W-M system and its success to more sophisticated approaches and formations such as the popular 4-2-3-1. Without a doubt football tactics developed in England and the author duly states so. But it were British coaches like Jimmy Hogan who traveled to the continent and played and coached teams there and thus started what was to dominate central European football from the 30s to the 50s: the Danubian school of football of Hungary and Austria.

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War minus the Shooting/ Wie Krieg ohne Schiessen

In Cold War, England, Football, Germany, History, Literature, Sport, Stereotypes, World Cup on August 14, 2010 at 23:18

Sport is war minus the shooting. That was the essence of an article George Orwell wrote in 1945 about a tour of the Dynamo Moscow football team in Britain. Certainly he wasn’t a friend of football preferring the Olympic Games and their supposed peacefulness and which brings nations together peacefully rather than stirring up hate and jealousy. Written just after the end of the Second World War, Orwell clearly had in his view that sport could become a means in the fight for the superiority of the systems, i.e. East vs. West. He was spot on in his observation and as the development of the Olympic Games has shown during the era of the Cold War.

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England vs. Hungary

In England, Football, History, Sport, Stereotypes, World Cup on August 10, 2010 at 09:49

It is almost 60 years ago that this fixture stirred the imagination of football writers in England. Unbeaten at home England would host the best team of the continent and Olympic champions, Hungary. A win was expected by the media hacks and nothing less than a convincing victory and a spectacle was what people were looking forward to. The press was unanimous that the home record of England would resist the challenge of the Magyars with their charismatic leader Ferenc Puskas.

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Book Review pt. 2: John Ramsden: Don’t Mention the War.

In England, Football, Germany, History, Identity, Literature, Sport, Stereotypes on August 9, 2010 at 11:04

John Ramsden: Don’t Mention the War. The British and the Germans since 1890. London: Abacus, 2007, p.464

To start with, this book covers a lot of ground and Ramsden does so in a prolific manner, yet the subtitle suggests that it is about the British and the Germans but the latter part is missing. Starting with a personal experience of meeting a German ex-soldier who went to Russia once, in a tank, he covers the development of Anglo-German relationships from around 1890, a time when between these two countries some things started to go wrong and he finishes with a quote by Joschka Fischer, then German foreign secretary, saying that politically the relationship is in good health, while “people to people, there is a problem.”, thus highlighting the problem of a press and a public that is still entangled in the past, most notably the Second World War.

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The Need for Speed.

In England, Football, Sport, Stereotypes on August 1, 2010 at 15:02

While I was reading Jonathan Wilson’s excellent book on the development of football tactics ‘Inverting the Pyramid’ i came across the notion of speed as being of one the key ingredients if not the main part of the English game. Players with technical abilities were and still are sneered at. Even after the 6-3 hammering against Hungary did England not alter their tactical set up to a great deal and still relied on speed and fast attacks as a way to unsettle opponents and to score. Didier Drogba of Chelsea once described the English style of play in three simple words: attack, attack, attack.

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