Sports Book of the Week: The Manager, by Barney Ronay

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Has the football manager had his heyday? Barney Ronay argues that the rise of squillionaire owners used to getting their own way will soon make the manager little more than a first-team coach, with little say in how his club is run or which players are bought and sold.

This account of how the role evolved from the walrus-moustached club secretaries of Victorian times to the Premier League's practitioners is hard to categorise; it's neither a comprehensive history (though there's plenty of history here) nor merely a collection of anecdotes (though there are plenty of those as well).

What makes it so entertaining is Ronay's stylish prose and firm grasp of his material as he charts the different incarnations of the gaffer over the decades: variously missionary, father figure, showman, scoundrel and now television star. One or two of his facts seem suspect, as when he asserts that "in 1924 10 per cent of households had a TV licence" – the first public broadcast didn't take place until 1936. But that's a minor blemish in one of the more original football books of recent years.

Published as a paperback original by Sphere, £12.99