Brave New World is an in-depth account of Tottenham Hotspurs’ 2016-17 season. It’s a biography written in the first person and a diary that isn’t really a diary.
Balague was granted unprecedented access to Mauricio Pochettino and his backroom staff for the duration of the 2016-17 season. He uses this insight to craft a biography of Pochettino that charts the remarkable transformation he has achieved in a very short time at Spurs. Perennial bottlers who never live up to their potential, Spurs now are just a few steps (and winning trophies) away from truly belonging among the game’s elite.
The book also serves as a wider biography of Pochettino’s life – detailing his childhood, his career in Argentina, his special times at Espanyol and his move to the English south coast at Southampton. It also discusses in detail his close and vital bond with his assistants who form a vital part of his success.
Pochettino comes across as a passionate, motivated and likeable character. He can but ruthless but for footballing reasons rather than a personal grudge. He is portrayed as being dedicated, at potential personal cost, to doing everything he can to be successful and to forge a Ferguson-like legacy at Spurs.
He is very well attuned to the psychological aspect of football – building incredibly close bonds with his players while still seemingly to keep an appropriate distance to enable him to judge their performance fairly. It’s clear that many of his players love him and see him as a vital part of their own ability to achieve greatness.
The book is a fantastic insight into a manager still very much on the up. It’s a unique approach – putting words in Pochetttino’s own mouth creates great risk for him given he is writing about players still under his charge. The prose and writing style felt like hard work at times – especially until I got used to it. Balague is a very good writer however, so I’m inclined to believe that the style of prose was intentional to read more like Pochettino’s own voice.
Overall I would recommend Brave New World for anyone looking for an insight into one of English football’s most interesting coaches.