27/03/2009

Book Review: FA Confidential, Sex, Drugs and Penalties. The Inside Story of English Football by David Davies

David Davies presents himself as a passionate ManU supporter but that seems to be the only passionate thing about him, at least judging from this book. Once a BBC journo, Davies climbed the ladder to the top of the FA via the job as information person. Davies describes his many meetings with interesting, or at least well known, people and the work (?) behind the scenes at the FA.

The description of how the FA was (is?) run is depressing rather than hilarious, but is still the most interesting part of the book. It’s written in the vein of “all was f**ed up, but there was not much I could do about it”. As a matter of fact, the whole book is pretty much like that, leaving me with a feeling that he was either un-influential or lacked the skill to do much about things. The weird thing is that he ends up being the Executive Director and as far as one can tell major decisions are still taken more or less by two people in a cab or something.
There are several passages and situations that could have been quite entertaining to read about, but for some reason it is never engaging. It lacks a sense of presence and tensions are never built. When he describes a situation as breathtaking or very funny, we must take his word for it as the description itself is not.
I was hoping to get some behind the scene feeling for the people he meets and hires, especially the managers of course, but find that even though he is talking about situations that happen in places not many other have access to the description does not add any depth to, or understanding for, the persons. If this is because of how the story was told by Davies or how the story was written by Henry Winter (yes, the infamous Winter that was the so called expert in the Griffiths tribunal deciding that Tevez was worth at least 3 points…) I’m not sure.
Iain Dale of WestHamtilIDie writes in his review "If you’re interested in sport administration you will enjoy this book" And I can’t argue with that, but he goes on saying "It’s one of the best football books I have read, and I read a lot of them" and here he is wide off the mark, even though he seem to be a bit partial as he confesses to have persuaded Davies to write it (or rather have it written) and also sells the book through his “Iain Dale's Diary Political Store” within Amazon.

According to Amazon the people that buy FA-confidential also buy the Mamma Mia DVD, I should have been warned, but now at least you are.

1 comment:

Hakan said...

I agree with most of the review. I was a bit disappointed with the quality of the writing as I thought the involvment of Henry Winter would at least guarantee that the book was well-written.
But I still found some parts rather interesting such as the "inside information" about England managers. It's a mystery to me why Terry Venables is held in such high esteem by Davies and many others, much higher than his record as a manager deserves. The simple answer seems to be social skills. He's probably great company at the pub, and well liked by both players and journalists.