Steve McManaman was a footballer who was impossible to dislike. Talented and entertaining to watch, he also came across as a decent guy. Off the field, he was known for wisely investing his money, his love of horseracing and marrying a lawyer.
After nine years at Liverpool, during which time Liverpool had to come to terms with no longer winning Championships, he moved to Real Madrid in 1999. The transfer was one of the first high profile Bosman free transfers and McManaman one of the few English players to move to the Continent and succeed. And succeed he did, despite at times relatively little attention being paid to his time at Madrid by the British media. He became the first English player to win the UEFA Champions League with a non-English club in 2000, and the first English player to win the Champions League twice.
El Macca is a detailed look at the 4 years McManaman (known to all as Macca) spent at Real Madrid. His first year was incredibly successful as he became a regular starter in a Champions League winning side and scored a spectacular volley in the final against Valencia.
Following the installment of Florentino Perez as Real President, McManaman found himself sidelined as the club looked to get him off the wage bill to pave the way for the Galactico era – the plan of Zidanes & Pavons – that was intended the club combine global superstars with youth team graduates. McManaman refused to complain, worked hard, and eventually made himself indispensable. As the Galactico era continued, he became a more regular substitute than starter for his last two seasons. Despite this, he seems to have remained a key figure for his coach Del Bosque, often having a significant impact when brought off the bench.
The book provides a really interesting insight to an era of change at the biggest football club in the world. Every player at the club was a household name and the very biggest names in the game found themselves all in the same team at Madrid. All the players come across quite well with Figo and Hierro standing out as interesting characters who got on very well with McManaman. After he left the club, it would take another 12 years before they managed to win another Champions League and complete La Decima.
In many ways the book reads like a book written solely by Edworthy as its mostly written in the 3rd person. However, with McManaman’s seal of approval, its highly unlikely that other players would have spoken so openly and candidly. The warmth the player feel towards McManaman is clearly evident as is the impact he had at the club at a personal and professional level. The book also serves as a partial biography of McManaman who speaks openly about his disappointment about missing out on the 2002 World Cup and a look at what the England camp was like under Glenn Hoodle.
Overall, El Macca is an enjoyable read and an interesting look behind the scenes of the most fascinating club in football during its most fascinating era.