Peter Scott

Frankly, Mr Shankly

Red or Dead


Faber & Faber 720pp £20 order from our bookshop

Until this year’s Champions League semifinal, Barcelona looked to have the system cracked. Press high, keep possession, pass, pass, pass. At times, it seemed, no one could touch them. Then better tactics, better players, better luck and even, perhaps, more desire, drove Bayern Munich to victory this May, as they beat Barcelona and went on to win the tournament. There is nothing like success to guarantee failure, but while the Spanish club swept all before them, it was easy to believe that we were seeing something genuinely new: a style of football based on repetition and replicability; one which rendered Plan B irrelevant because, with the players and the execution in place, Plan A was invincible. But of course, it wasn’t invincible; it never is. Even when Barcelona were at their best they got beaten from time to time. A system is not enough.

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter