The Mixer looks at the history of the Premier League through tactics. The start of the Premier League saw teams almost exclusively play 4-4-2. This has developed as the league has welcomed overseas players and managers and pitches have improved.
The first tactical change I can remember (and that we talked about at primary school) was playing a 3-5-2 with wing backs. At the time, we were amazed that a formation other than 4-4-2 could be used and, coupled with a good Aston Villa team at the time, were convinced it was the way forward. It certainly made an impact on me and for a long time on Championship Manager/Football Manager, 3-5-2 was my default formation as I like the idea of having three centre backs and an extra man in the middle of the park. Anyway, back to the book…
Although the book is taking a look at the evolution of tactics, it does not get heavily involved in comparing the relative advantages of different tactics against other line-ups. The book also looks at the role of particular notable players and how that has allowed a formation to work (e.g. the role of Cantona in playing between the lines and the ‘Makelele’ position).
The book also has some interesting stories within in it, some of which are entertaining. Unsurprisingly, the stories involving Keegan’s time at Newcastle were particularly entertaining and had me laughing several times.
The Mixer is a football book. And it is a good football book. But more importantly, it’s a good book and one I thoroughly enjoyed. I am sure I will return to it and look forward to seeing how tactics continue to develop in the Premier League (and beyond).
Rating (out of 5): *****