Football Books for Christmas: Keegan's ultimate goal is cast in some doubt: Trevor Haylett finds plenty to ponder in the old game's latest literary offerings

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The Independent Online
KEVIN KEEGAN and the job of England manager is not a partnership that will come together in the near future - or so he keeps telling us. There is much more to do at Newcastle and for the Messianic Magpie it is definitely a case of 'What's started will be finished'.

Interesting, then, the assertion made at the start and close of John Moynihan's informative study: Kevin Keegan: Black and White (Collins Willow, pounds 14.99) that the very reason he abandoned an envious retirement under the Spanish sun was to serve his apprenticeship in anticipation of the call from the Football Association.

Derek Pavis, the former Notts County chairman, who suffered from his friend and golfing partner's obsessional desire to master the smaller ball, has no doubt why he left Utopia to return home. 'Pure and simple, Kevin wanted to be manager of England. And the only way he could get it was to become a club manager to allow himself four or five years in the front line.'

Black and white may predominate the cover, but in every other respect the book is well red; the Liverpool red providing the catalytic force for a career which took a limited talent all the way to the top of the mountain.

Paul Gascoigne, The Inside Story (Collins Willow, pounds 9.99) by Jane Nottage, his erstwhile personal assistant and commercial manager in Rome, is required reading for those who prefer their sporting stars on the inside newspaper pages and not on the back. A whole new bawl game, surely a better handle for this was Gazza: The Soap Opera as the reader is taken on a Peeping Tom rummage through the petty squabbling with girlfriend, family and soul-mates that unhinged Gascoigne's attempts to make an impressive start with Lazio.

A more stylish offering comes from Ian Hamilton, a poet, Tottenham supporter and Gazza devotee who in Gazza Agonistes (Granta, pounds 7.99) paints this gifted yet vulnerable individual as a man more sinned against than sinning.

Gascoigne's struggles against the world and his dog were one reason to look back on 1993 with sadness. More so were the farewells to Brian Clough - hopefully in his case towards many years of contented retirement - and to Bobby Moore, whose untimely passing symbolised the demise of a golden era of true heroes with dignity, charm and style.

In Bobby Moore, the Life and Times of a Sporting Hero (Robson Books, pounds 16.95), an updating of his earlier biography, Jeff Powell has compiled an oustanding memorial to England's World Cup-winning captain. The passages recounting his friend's final days, Moore's meticulous attention to the 'loose ends' and the outpouring of grief and admiration his death provoked were especially moving.

Pat Murphy enjoyed a privileged working relationship with Clough, and His Way, the Brian Clough Story (Robson, pounds 14.95) is laced with fascinating anecdotes, although Murphy's admiration for his subject means Clough's transgressions are treated more kindly than maybe he deserves.

Ray Kennedy's career with Arsenal and Liverpool and, subsequently, his courageous fight against Parkinson's disease provide Dr Andrew Lees with plenty of material for Ray of Hope (Pelham, pounds 14.99). Ultimately, of course, it is a sad tale, although Kennedy's inherent cheerfulness and determination to beat the disease transcends the words carefully crafted by Lees, Kennedy's neurologist and a Liverpool supporter, who is seduced into laborious details of matches that add little to the story.

A delightful pick-me-up comes courtesy of those quoteaholics, Phil Shaw (of this newspaper) and Peter Ball, who have produced edition four of the Book of Football Quotations (Stanley Paul, pounds 8.99). Would-be authors for the future should resist the temptation to deal too seriously with their subject matter. Football people are essentially simple folk, as the former Coventry manager, John Sillett, illustrated after a game in 1989. 'There are 0-0 draws and 0-0 draws - and this was a 0-0 draw,' he opined.

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