Watching Football The Third Way

If over the past couple of years you’ve picked up a copy of either Inverting the Pyramid by Jonathan Wilson or Why England Lose by Simon Kuper & Stefan Szymanski, then the chances are that, like me, you probably found both titles to be immensely enjoyable reads but were struck by the intimidating amount of research that the authors had undertaken. Naturally, as professional writers it is their job to have an exhaustive knowledge of the topic at hand, but the enormous level of work that obviously went into the books by Wilson and Kuper & Szymanski demonstrates that football can be understood and interpreted in much greater depth than the average fan would usually have time for. Writing in October’s issue of When Saturday Comes, Mike Ticher expresses similar sentiments with respect to Inverting the Pyramid, albeit it with tongue firmly in cheek: “I was a bit shocked to find out that I didn’t know how to watch football, despite years of practice.” Ticher goes on to set out two opposing ways in which football can be enjoyed. There is the fan’s way of watching, in which entertaining fare on the pitch is the overriding concern, and the coach’s way of watching, when the method and motives behind the teams’ actions on the pitch are analysed. In praise of Inverting the Pyramid, Ticher explains that “the book’s genius...

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