Friday, February 15, 2019

'Living on the Volcano' by Michael Calvin

15 February 2019

Michael Calvin is a very accomplished sports writer who has been named Sports Writer of the Year and Sports Reporter of the Year (twice). He was Chief Sports Writer at the Independent on Sunday until 2016 and in recent years he has won the Times Sports Book of the Year prize twice and has received much acclaim for ghostwriting the autobiographies of the rugby player Gareth Thomas and the footballer Joey Barton. He also happens to be one of my neighbours, living a few doors down from us. I’ve just finished reading Mick’s book ‘Living on the Volcano: The Secrets of Surviving as a Football Manager’, which was shortlisted for the 2015 William Hill Sports Book of the Year. It’s a collection of interviews with managers working across the Premier League and the English Football League, including Brendan Rodgers, Roberto Martinez, Alan Pardew, Sean Dyche, Karl Robinson and Eddie Howe. Given the precarious nature of the football manager’s job, the book now feels like a snapshot of 2014 as hardly any of the managers Mick talks to are still at the same clubs now. It’s a fascinating examination of the transition from player to manager. I was particularly struck by the wide range of incredibly thorough approaches taken by most of the managers who have meticulously studied statistics, foreign coaching styles, other sports or completely different industries to give them an insight on how to build the best team for their club. It seems cruel that, given this determined attention to detail, the fate of most managers seems to be decided on luck and the mood of players, fans and owners: these days football clubs rarely manage to take a long-term approach. Mick is good at getting behind the pantomime villain image of many football managers and showing the genuine, sympathetic human beings struggling against impossible odds. While it is true that most sacked managers will have reaped huge financial rewards, when you consider the ridiculous levels of scrutiny and stress involved you do wonder why anyone would want to be a football manager.



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