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Football Writers and Books: Simon Kuper and Gabrielle Marcotti or Barcelona and Chelsea

Writers, like teams, have their own style and flair. Barcelona plays with creativity, triangles, and movement. Chelsea on the other hand is strong at the back and emphasizes a more direct, counter-attacking approach. Different styles but excellent teams. Simon Kuper is the Barcelona of writers and Gabrielle Marcotti is Chelsea.

Simon Kuper writes for the Financial Times. Kuper's book, Soccer Against the Enemy was my first foray into serious soccer books. His articles in the financial times are as good as his books. Like Barcelona, you are almost entranced by his creativity. Where does he come up with his material and how does he make it look so easy to write? He recently wrote about Barcelona's youth academy that gives you a small glimpse into their world. He also wrote a very interesting article on club managers where he informs us that in reality, they're overrated.

Simon Kuper's next book is called Soccernomics and it promises to be another excellent read. The subtitle is, Why England Loses, Why Germany and Brazil Win, and Why the U.S., Japan, Australia, Turkey--and Even Iraq--Are Destined to Become the Kings of the World's Most Popular Sport. I'll post a review when I finish it. Simon Kuper's style reminds me of that Barcelona magic. He has a creative, free-flowing style that pulls you in as he drives home his points with excellent analysis and insight.

Now onto Gabrielle Marcotti. Marcotti is an Italian journalist who writes for The Times of London. Perhaps the more apt comparison is to Juventus, but they are second tier right now so Chelsea is the stronger comparison. He comes across as a bit of a jerk at times, ready to cut you down with brutal efficiency, but you can't deny the quality of his writing and it makes him more interesting. He is certain that he is always right. He isn't but I enjoy his work anyway. Marcotti recently wrote a book on England's manager Fabio Capello and I'm not sure how to get a hold of it.

My main sources for football information are The Guardian's football section and The Game from The Times of London. Both also have excellent podcasts. The Guardian's is especially good because they cover the entire world in 30 minutes (except they rarely ever touch on the MLS, which means Kent would be a big fan of the podcast. It also features the wit of James Richardson who hosts). ESPN also has a podcast but it really drags. Of course my favorite is the one from Fastbreakfutbol, or will be if we ever start it up again.

So there it is. Simon Kuper and Gabrielle Marcotti, the Barcelona and Chelsea of the football writing world.

Who are your favorites? Where do you get your information? Any other book recommendations?

UPDATE: I was looking at the Guardian's site today and found a great little feature called "Chalkboards" that could help Brig with his next in depth Liverpool analysis. Maybe he'll only need three hours this time. Scroll to the bottom of the page here.
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  1. I can't believe you linked to our poor excuse for a podcast. I purposely buried it in early October so no one would find it. We need to fix the sound issues and get those up and running again.

    You are much more well read than I am. But Phil Ball is my must read for stories on La Liga. He's great. He does well with mixing in spanish culture with his coverage, which I enjoy.

    He also just released a book about Real Madrid.


    I've been meaning to read it. It's actually received mixed reviews. I guess it's not as in depth as people had hoped. I'll still read it though. But his other book, Morbo, which came out a few years ago was highly received and I guess is a must read for any fan of La Liga.


  2. It's a terrible podcast. Even though I linked to it, no one will get past the first minute because the sound is so bad.

    I'll have to check out Phil Ball's book on Real Madrid. They have a really interesting history. Do you read Sid Lowe on The Guardian? He's English living and working in Spain.

  3. Loved Soccer Against the Enemy. Made Franklin Foer's American rip-off completely pale in comparison. Thanks for the chalkboard link. I checked out some of the player stats from the Liverpool game. Mine are different, but only slightly, who knows which is more accurate. I'll probably go with the chalkboard in the future just to save time, although it's fun to keep track of stats no one else does like pressure passes, poor touches, superb touches, etc.

    Thanks for the tips as to other good soccer reads. I'll have to check them out...

  4. I liked your stats. They gave a better picture of what happened. The granularity was great. Now we need to leverage that into a football consulting business!


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