The Blizzard: Issue Eight

Jonathan Wilson (editor), 2013
https://www.theblizzard.co.uk/product/issue-eight/

The eight issue of The Blizzard discusses a lot of personalities. First there is a detailed analysis of Mourinho’s style of managing and coaching a team which at that time was still exercised in Madrid and whereas Chelsea was still working on a detox of him. We know now they preferred to keep the addicition and dependency from the “Special One” and the article tells you what that means for them, the club and the players. The other personality discussed is Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who’s personality is also described and explained in more detail and why he is how he is, so that the picture of the egomaniac center forward is a bit softened and more put into perspective. I would even go so far to read his biography now. Further on there is also an interview with Sepp Blatter which seems to be comical to read two years later but just shows again the double nature of his reign, which I described in “How They Stole The Game”.
The start of sports/soccer journalism in Europe is discussed in an interview between Philipe Auclair and Brian Glanville and is a nice addition when you already read “Goal-Post Vol. 1”, the Victorian soccer journalism anthology.
The Cup of Nation provides again an opportunity to talk about the state of soccer on the African continent, including some history around the national teams of Nigeria and Mali, as well as a review about what happened in South Africa after the World Cup 2010.
Finally Steve Menary writes about how the Champions League revenues destroy the balance in Europe’s smaller leagues, like Cypres or Luxembourg. It just shows the problem to create a fair system. If the small teams get a significant share of the revenues, even when they just participate in the qualification rounds, they dominate their local leagues with the money earned. The alternative would be to make the money gap between the big and small teams in Europe bigger, which then would unbalance the European competitions even more. I personally prefer the first and hope that sometimes other teams in the small leagues have a chance to break through the ceiling, just because of the number one teams might stumble about their own aspirations. Fairness is also the topic of the article about the fall of Glasgow Rangers and why it was absolutely necessary to crush the duopoly of the two Glasgow teams in the Scottish Premier League. From the pure results it seems that it did not help, with Celtic winning all the Scottish Championships in the last years, but let’s see what the future will bring, when the Rangers are back in the SPL.
And at the very last I would not like to miss to point out the article about becoming a Millwall fan from Mike Calvin, which shines a wonderful light on how we become what we are as supporters of certain clubs.

Biography: 2/3
History: 3/3
Background: 1/3
Tactics & Game philosophy: 3/3

Pep Confidential

Inside Pep Guardiola’s First Season at Bayern Munich

Marti Perarnau, 2014, Arena Sport
http://www.amazon.com/Pep-Confidential-Inside-Guardiolas-Season-ebook/dp/B00NVFNIS2

There are no two opinions about Pep Guardiola. He is since years the best coach of the world. He developed with Barcelona the best team of the last 20 to 30 years and there are no weaknesses of his character known. If one doesn’t like him than usually because even perfection gets annoying over time.
A biography about such a coach is easy, because there are enough stories floating around, so that you are always able to piece together a book or an essay about his character. On the other hand it is incredible difficult because there is not a lot new to talk about. However, Marti Perarnau made it and wrote a unique book, which stands out of all Guardiola books.
The book describes the first season of Pep Guardiola at Bayern Munich, pre-season, game by game, highlights like the Championship in March but also bad days like the 0:4 against Real Madrid. The whole time Perarnau was allowed to be on the training court, in the dressing room or in the office of the coach. Regularly he is able to talk with players, club officials, the coaching team and to Guardiola himself. He uses this access not to ask just the typical question of sports journalists like “How do you feel after the win/loss?” but he discusses tactical details, to better understand what the coach wants to achieve with the system he plays. These detailed descriptions of training, game planning and preparation are probably unrivaled in the history of coach biographies. There is probably no other book which better describes what a coach really does every day. Simply the comparison with the book of Neil Warnock shows, that either their approach to their work is so different that there are no similarities between their jobs or that the descriptions of Warnock simply doesn’t cover the most important parts of the work of a coach.
About Guardiola himself you learn in the book that he is a perfectionist, driven by a clear vision, but also constantly haunted by the fear of failure, which always pushes him to think about the next problem, as soon as one is overcome. Nevertheless these characteristics also make him popular with players who want to learn and improve themselves and who see that things become easier and success is at hand, when they follow his guidance. Other biographies might tell more anecdotes and cover the whole career of Guardiola, but with the atmosphere created in this book one gets very close to Guardiola and gets to know him like a good friend.
At the end one can just add that it is a shame that Perarnau’s other books are not published yet in english language. It is more than time that his excellent work is distributed more broadly.

Biography: 2/3
History: 1/3
Background: 3/3
Tactics & Game philosophy: 2/3

Next book: The Blizzard: Issue Six (Feb 27th)

Herr Guardiola

Das erste Jahr mit Bayern München

Marti Perarnau, 2014, Verlag Antje Kunstmann
http://www.amazon.de/Herr-Guardiola-erste-Bayern-München/dp/3888979749

Zu Pep Guardiola gibt es keine zwei Meinungen. Er ist seit Jahren der beste Trainer der Welt. Er hat Barcelona zur besten Mannschaft, zumindest der letzten 20-30 Jahre, gemacht und charakterliche Schwächen sind an ihm nicht auszumachen. Wenn man ihn nicht mag, dann höchtens deshalb, weil selbst Perfektion irgendwann auf die Nerven gehen kann.
Eine Biographie über einen solchen Trainer ist einfach, weil ohnehin genügend Anekdoten kursieren, so dass man diese immer zu einem Buch oder zu einer Charakterstudie zusammenstückeln kann, aber gleichzeitig ist es auch schwierig, weil es wohl nicht mehr viel Neues zu sagen gibt. Marti Perarnau hat es allerdings geschafft, ein ein einzigartiges Buch zu schreiben, dass aus der Masse an Guardiola-Büchern heraussticht.
Das Buch beschreibt die erste Saison von Pep Guardiola bei Bayern München, Vorbereitung, Spieltag für Spieltag, Höhepunkte wie die Meisterschaft im März und Tiefschläge, wie das 0:4 gegen Real Madrid. Dabei ist es Perarnau erlaubt, die ganze Zeit dabei zu sein, auf dem Trainingsplatz, in der Kabine, im Büro des Trainers. Regelmäßig hat er Gelegenheit mit Spielern, Cluboffiziellen, dem Trainerteam und Guardiola selbst zu reden. Dabei fragt er nicht das oberflächliche “Wie fühlen sie sich nach der Niederlage/dem Sieg?” von Sportjournalisten, sondern diskutiert taktische Details, um besser zu verstehen, was der Trainer mit seinem Spielsystem zu erreichen versucht. Diese detaillierten Beschreibungen von Training, Spielplanung und -vorbereitung sind wohl einzigartig in der Geschichte der Trainerbiographien. Es gibt wohl kein Buch, was den Alltag eines Fussballtrainers besser beschreibt, als Perarnau es tut. Allein der Vergleich zum Buch von Neil Warnock zeigt, dass die beiden Trainer entweder so unterschiedlich in ihrer Arbeitsauffassung sind, dass es kaum Gemeinsamkeiten zwischen ihrer Trainingsarbeit gibt oder dass die Beschreibung von Warnock auf einen großen, wenn nicht sogar den wichtigsten Teil der Arbeit eines Trainers nicht eingeht.
Über Guardiola selbst lernt man, dass er ein Perfektionist ist, angetrieben von einer klaren Idee, aber auch von konstanten Versagensängsten, die ihn immer schon an das nächste Problem denken lassen, sobald eines erfolgreich überwunden ist. Allerdings machen ihn diese Eigenschaften auch beliebt bei den Spielern, die lernen und sich verbessern wollen und die sehen, dass wenn sie seine Vorgaben umsetzen, die Dinge leichter gehen und sich Erfolg einstellt.
Zum Werdegang von Guardiola und Anektdoten aus seinem Leben gibt es bestimmt in anderen Biographien mehr, aber die Atmosphäre, die im Buch erzeugt wird, läßt einen näher an die Person Guardiolas heranrücken und man glaubt am Ende, dass man ihn kennt, wie einen guten Freund.
Abschließend bleibt eigentlich nur noch zu sagen, dass es Zeit wird, dass Perarnau’s andere Bücher auch ins Deutsche übersetzt werden, damit man seine erstklassige Arbeit größere Verbreitung findet.

Biographie: 2/3
Geschichte: 1/3
Hintergrund: 3/3
Taktik & Spielphilosophie: 2/3

Next book: Pep Confidential (Feb 17th)