Inverting the pyramid: the history of football tactics

The evolution of football formations and tactics is examined in Inverting the pyramid. The book starts with the first formation of 2-3-5 and how this has progressed over the years to new formations. For much of history, most teams have played the same formation or a variation of the formation. As well as formations, tactics are also looked at as managers have looked to get the best out of the players they have at their disposal. In most cases, the initial success of a new formation and tactic has brought some early success before other teams have copied it.

Wilson argues that new tactics and formations brought success as others were not aware of them. With the amount of football available to watch and all the video analysis that there is, it becomes more difficult for revolutionary new tactics to be introduced and certainly not as a surprise to opponents. How will the game develop further? That is the unknown question.

Rating (out of 5): *****

Six Months in 1945

The end of the Second World War is the subject of Six Months in 1945. Instead of focusing on the military defeats of Germany and Japan, the focus is on the changing relationship between the Big Three as they move from allies to enemies. The book starts with the Yalta conference and how the interpretation of the agreements reached affects events and the relationships through to the Potsdam conference and the dropping of the atomic bomb on Japan.

As well as events and the agreements, Dodds also looks at the change in personnel amongst the Big Three leaders and the impact that this has as 1945 progresses. The main change is in the American presidency, with Churchill’s replacement coming at the end of the period focused on.

An interesting read that looks to chart how the wartime alliance led to the Cold War.

Rating (out of 5): ****

Shockwave: The Countdown to Hiroshima

Shockwave: The Countdown to Hiroshima looks at the conclusion of the Manhattan Project and the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima. The focus of the book is initially on the lead up to the test of the bomb at Los Alamos, but it also looks at the disagreements with the Japanese government as generals want to fight on, whilst politicians look for an end to the war. The successful test sees the atomic weapon picking up a momentum of its own until it is ready to be dropped. The assembly of the bomb and the mission is covered in great detail, along with the aftermath with accounts from residents of Hiroshima.

An detailed study of the closing days of the war in the Pacific and very readable.

Rating (out of 5): ****

Book review: Soccernomics

Soccernomics looks to explain events in football and dispel popular myths. Club and international football is looked at. As well as trying to explain events, it touches on how other sports use data and how football is slow in comparison to use statistics available. Whilst the book may be slow to influence professional football clubs, it has had an impact on how I play Football Manager and has helped me raise the number of goals I score from corners.

A fascinating insight into how data can be used in football to explain events that happen.

Ratings (out of 5): *****

Book review: Blood on Red Dirt

Blood on red dirt is a personal account of the Vietnam War by Gary Cowart. The book covers Cowart’s enlistment, training and experiences in Vietnam with the artillery.

Cowart provides a personal experience of the war. He does not look at the politics of the conflict or the wider war, focusing on what he experiences in his theatre of combat. An interesting insight into the Vietnam War.

Rating (out of 5): ****

Book review: Far from the massive crowds

Far from the massive crowds has Mark Cowan following his football team for a year. As the title suggests, they are not a club that everyone may be able to name. His team are Guisborough Town Football Club. They are in the STL Northern League Division 2, but are looking to get promoted. How will the season pan out though?

Cowan details each match he goes to, providing an overview of the towns he visits for away matches. There is a brief summary of the match, with key moments detailed and an overall assessment of how the game was. What is clear throughout the book is the love of the game at this level, both on the pitch and among those who watch and cheer their team on.

Is there a happy ending? Do Guisborough get promoted? I’m afraid I won’t give away the ending to an enjoyable book.

Rating (out of 5): *****

Book review: Start the Car – The World According to Bumble

Start The Car has David ‘Bumble’ Lloyd looking over cricket and his life. The book is in three parts. In the first part, Bumble profiles those he has worked with on commentary duties. There are stories about those he has worked with and what they are like. The second section focuses on cricket and games that Bumble has been involved in. The final section is a look at Bumble’s life. The stories told are interesting and funny and told in Bumble’s inimitable style. It frequently feels less like a book and more like a cosy chat by the fire over a good pint in one of Bumble’s recommended pubs.

Rating (out of 5): *****