By far one of the most insightful books written about the game. An interesting amalgam of responsible journalism and football savvy. The authors raise a number of significant issues of which learning the game at an early age is the most salient. What the reader gleans from the discussion of this issue is unequivocal - there is no substitute for the acquisition of skills by children in an environment created by themselves and therefore the one they exclusively control. Skills acquired by trial and error entail self-motivation, passion, obsession, etc. Teaching skills must be conducted in a radically different environment managed and controlled by the instructors. A psychokinetic activity like football is best learnt in a natural setting by children possessing natural ability. The authors quote various cognoscenti on this topic, all of whom regret the disappearance from street football from the urban landscape.
The cultural, socio-economic, geographic-climatic, psychological differences between the English game and "Calcio" are well-researched, relevant, and judiciously taxonomized. Large portions of the book are dedicated to the history of the internationalization of the English game both in terms of foreign players and coaches. While many are are quite valid points, especially with regards to modern training methodologies, acquiring tactical sophistication, nutrition, diet, one question remains -how was it possible for coaches like Matt Busby, Jock Stein, Bill Shankley, Bob Paisley, Brian Clough and others to achieve so much European success? For tactical sophistication just recall Sir Alf Ramsey and the revolutionary system he employed when England had won its solitary World Cup. The players ate steaks and fried cod liver and indulged in alcoholic beverages, that is true. Possibly, the answer could be found in a comment to Claudio Ranieri (horrified on seing his players gorging on fried bananas and cuban rice)by one of Real Madrid's legendary players of the past: "We may have been eating wrong, coach, but we won quite a few games."