The European Game is a journey behind the scenes of how European football operates. Fieldsend, formerly a staff member at Liverpool, spent three months travelling to the best and most famous football teams across Europe learning along the way about the club’s history, key figures, tactical developments, and place in their society.
It’s a book that celebrates the uniqueness and specialness of every football club which shifts between understanding why how clubs impact their environment and how environment’s shape their clubs. It’s part exploration of what makes a club successful and part exploration of what makes a club magical.
The book can be dipped into chapter by chapter which each adventure heavily shaped by the people Fieldsend was able to meet and interview. Overall, the cast of characters is suitably diverse and interesting to ensure that the book avoids repetition. Some chapters have a heavy travelogue feel as Fieldsend connects with the people and the place as much as the football club. At times the book suffers from a slight identity crisis as it shifts between very different types of stories.
It merits some comparison’s to the peerless Inverting the Pyramid or the excellent Football Against Enemy – a very different book from those but one that contains a similar desire to understand football at a deeper level.
It is clear the book is a real labour of love. While some of the chapters contain fairly familiar material, overall it me feeling I understood more about some of the major European clubs and kept me entertained and engaged throughout. Some tighter editing of slightly flowery prose wouldn’t have gone a miss – but I can’t begrudge the author attempting to show a bit of literary flair at times.
Overall, highly recommended for those who haven’t devoured countless books on European football while still worth a read for those among us who like to reread Inverting the Pyramid every summer!