Anatomy of England (book)

Plot Summary:

Having invented the game, for England and its national football team, everything that has followed has been something of an anti-climax. There was, of course, the golden summer of 1966, when Alf Ramsey's radicalism in unveiling his wingless wonders in a World Cup quarter-final paid dividends. And there was the great period of English dominance on the world stage, which fell roughly between 1886 and 1900, when England won 35 of their 40 internationals ...But before long foreign teams, with their insistence on progressive 'tactics', began to pose a few questions. And much of what followed for England constituted a series of false dawns (a thrashing of Italy in 1948; one World Cup triumph; the demolition of Holland in Euro '96), muddling through and by and large panicking under pressure. In The Anatomy of England award-winning journalist Jonathan Wilson seeks to place the bright spots in the context of the twentieth-century, where, time and again, progressive coaches have been spurned by England - technique being all very well, but what really matters is pluck and 'organised muscularity', or to quote Jimmy Hogan's chairman at Aston Villa in 1936: 'I've no time for these theories about football. Just get the ball in the bloody net.' Wilson takes ten key England fixtures - from defeat in Madrid in 1929; to Steve McLaren's evening to forget at Wembley in 2007 - and hacks back through the myth, conjecture and personal recollections, to get at the games themselves, and explore how what actually happened on the pitch shaped the future of the English game. Bursting with insight and critical detail, yet imbued with a wry affection, this is a history of England like no other before. Nominated for a British Sports Book Award. [1]