Inverting The Pyramid: The History of Soccer Tactics
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Inverting the Pyramid is a pioneering soccer book that chronicles the evolution of soccer tactics and the lives of the itinerant coaching geniuses who have spread their distinctive styles across the globe.
Through Jonathan Wilson’s brilliant historical detective work we learn how the South Americans shrugged off the British colonial order to add their own finesse to the game; how the Europeans harnessed individual technique and built it into a team structure; how the game once featured five forwards up front, while now a lone striker is not uncommon.
Inverting the Pyramid provides a definitive understanding of the tactical genius of modern-day Barcelona, for the first time showing how their style of play developed from Dutch “Total Football,” which itself was an evolution of the Scottish passing game invented by Queens Park in the 1870s and taken on by Tottenham Hotspur in the 1930s. Inverting the Pyramid has been called the “Big Daddy” (Zonal Marking) of soccer tactics books; it is essential for any coach, fan, player, or fantasy manager of the beautiful game
instinctively theorized and deconstructed, that was as comfortable with planning in the abstract as it was with reacting on the field, and, crucially, that suffered none of the distrust of intellectualism that was to be found in Britain. That happened in central Europe between the wars. What was demonstrated by the Uruguayans and Argentinians was explained by a—largely Jewish—section of the Austrian and Hungarian bourgeoisie. The modern way of understanding and discussing the game was invented in
left his home, he began to roam around the field. So you had four players [of the five forwards] who would hold an orthodox position and move to and fro in their channels, and then suddenly you would have one player who would start to disrupt their standard movements by running diagonally or left to right. That made it difficult for the defending team to follow him, and the other forwards benefited because they had a free team-mate to whom they could pass. The season began badly, with draws
possible that there is a fundamental flaw in the way England play the game, and an almost self-conscious Luddism hasn’t helped, but it would be hard to make a serious case for a total overhaul of the English game on the basis of results in major tournaments alone. Globalization is blurring national styles, but tradition, perpetuated by coaches, players, pundits, and fans, is strong enough that the styles remain distinguishable. What became apparent in the writing of this book is that every
rudimentary, and from that sprouted certain fundamentals that would shape the course of early English soccer: the game was all about dribbling; passing, cooperation, and defending were perceived as somehow inferior. Head-down charging, certainly, was to be preferred to thinking, a manifestation, some would say, of the English attitude to life in general. In the public schools, thinking tended to be frowned upon as a matter of course. (As late as 1946, the Hungarian comic writer George Mikes could
the committee to follow Ramsey’s wishes and switch to a 4–2–4, and although that brought a 2–1 home defeat to Scotland, he stuck with the formation for most of his early reign. It was May 1964 and a postseason tour of South America was to prove key to Ramsey’s tactical development. England had hammered the United States 10–0 in New York—some revenge for Ramsey, having played in the side beaten 1–0 by them in Belo Horizonte in 1950—but, exhausted by the effects of travel and scheduled to play