Top 10: Must-read Football Books
01 January 2019
This list of the top 10 must-read football books could easily have been a ‘top 100’, but we’ve distilled it down with the aim of covering all angles: tactics, culture, statistics, biographies, coaching and the history of the game.
1. The Mixer by Michael Cox
The Mixer charts the tactical evolution of the Premier League since its inception in 1992, ‘from route one to false nines’. Cox navigates through the 90s and 00s to the present day, and emphasises how drastically the game has changed in such a short time. Well-researched and a thoroughly entertaining read.
2. George Best: Immortal by Duncan Hamilton
Immortal is the pick of a host of books about the legendary fifth Beatle. Hamilton spent years inside the mind of Best during his prime, and it proves to be both an exhilarating and lonely place. The author’s painstaking research and quest for first-hand interviews paid dividends.
3. Fever Pitch by Nick Hornby
This book divides opinion like no other, but it charted the changing of the football landscape from the hooliganism of the 1970s and 80s into the money-making behemoth the top flight has become today. Hornby skilfully paints what it truly means to be a football fan.
4. Soccernomics by Simon Kuper and Stefan Szymanski
Football’s answer to Freakonomics. Kuper and Szymanski are a perfect match in dissecting the beautiful game; answering the big questions and dispelling myths aplenty. Outlandish hypotheses are consistently backed up with statistical analysis which makes it fascinating reading.
5. The Ball is Round by David Goldblatt
It’s quite a feat to document the history of global football in one book, but Goldblatt manages it with aplomb. This is the story of how football has transformed from a folk ritual into the number one sport in the world. Packed full of facts and figures as well as social context, this book is an epic achievement.
6. Futebol by Alex Bellos
A hugely entertaining account which captures how football is embedded in the very core of Brazil’s identity. Bellos travels around the country, and his deep passion for Brazil and its people drips off every page. A must-read.
7. The Ugly Game by Heidi Blake and Jonathan Calvert
A gripping story of the controversy surrounding Qatar winning the rights to host the 2022 World Cup. The authors comprehensively reveal the virus at the heart of Sepp Blatter’s FIFA. An important book about the murky corporate dealings which take place in the beautiful game.
8. Living on the Volcano by Michael Calvin
A fascinating insight into the trials and tribulations of a football manager. Calvin gets under the skin of the sometimes thankless task of being a football manager. He expertly delves into the oft-forgotten realms of the human side behind the managerial merry-go-round.
9. Pep Guardiola: Another Way of Winning by Guillem Balague
Balague’s access into the inner circles of Pep Guardiola’s management team brings an insightful portrait of a relentless perfectionist. It’s a must-read for fans of Guardiola as well as those who doubt the Spaniard’s impact on his squads. It documents a man who is simply obsessed with football.
10. Stillness and Speed by Dennis Bergkamp and Michael Winner
Where football meets art. With help from interviews with the man himself, this is an insight into the mind of a football genius. It highlights the importance of staying true to one’s philosophy, and Bergkamp proves to be just as much articulate philosopher as stubborn winner.