Having invented the game, everything that has followed for England and its national football team has been something of an anticlimax. There was, of course, the golden summer of 1966, and the great period of English dominance on the world stage, which fell roughly between 1886 and 1900, when England won 35 of their 40 internationals … But before long foreign teams, with their insistence on progressive ‘tactics’, began to pose a few questions. And much of what followed for England constituted a series of false dawns.
In THE ANATOMY OF ENGLAND Jonathan Wilson seeks to place the bright spots in context. Time and again, progressive coaches have been spurned by England – technique being all very well, but what really matters is pluck and ‘organised muscularity’, or, to quote Jimmy Hogan’s chairman at Aston Villa in 1936: ‘I’ve no time for these theories about football. Just get the ball in the bloody net.’
Wilson takes ten key England fixtures and explores how what actually happened on the pitch shaped the future of the English game. Bursting with insight and critical detail, yet imbued with a wry affection, this is a history of England like none before.