Book review of ‘How to Win the World Cup’ by Chris Evans

If talent alone won a World Cup, the Netherlands would have at least one, maybe two stars on their crest. Brazil would go decades between losing World Cups. And the Germans, well, they would still be winning on penalties. Joking aside, winning a World Cup takes more than just the most talented 23 players. It […]

Book review of ‘How to Win the World Cup’ by Chris Evans
How Win World Cup book

How Win World Cup book

If talent alone won a World Cup, the Netherlands would have at least one, maybe two stars on their crest. Brazil would go decades between losing World Cups. And the Germans, well, they would still be winning on penalties.

Joking aside, winning a World Cup takes more than just the most talented 23 players. It requires navigation past a grueling qualifying schedule followed by preparations for the tournament itself. Then, the competition forces near perfection, as one single mistake can cost a team a match and any chance at glory. Unsurprisingly, the man on the touchline is under intense scrutiny at all times. Since the first World Cup, fans wondered what is the right type of manager to win a World Cup. At least, what kind of manager can not falter with the most talented squad.

Journalist Chris Evans explores these topics and more in the book How To Win the World Cup: Secrets and Insights from International Football’s Top Managers. Drawing on numerous interviews with managers and soccer knowledgeable people, Evans does not definitively answer questions but provides perspectives on how the successful managers navigated this intense tournament.

How to Win the World Cup book

Logically the book is organized chronologically by World Cup cycle. You begin with the most basic question – how is international management different from club managing. Then, you dive into qualification. Evans does talk about what it is like managing the world’s lowest ranked countries. Those countries’ World Cup dreams are simply to not lose by double digits. That topic, however, is covered extensively elsewhere. The book progresses through qualifications with stops on important topics like managing the roster, managing the players and how to address team controversy.

The book ends with the most fundamental question. Why has only one person won two World Cups as a manager? Rather, what makes winning the World Cup so hard to repeat as an accomplishment? Drawing on Spain under del Bosque, Evans does an excellent job laying out the reasons why winning the World Cup is so impossible even for the current holders.

The biggest takeaway from this book is everything has to go right for a country to win a World Cup. Talent is important, but not having the right manager at the right time is equally important. Evans drives this point home by speaking with some big name managers. Also, he includes insight from knowledgeable people in and around the game. This book is why long-time journalists can make good authors. They know who and how to interview.

2022 World Cup

The 2022 World Cup is rapidly approaching. This book fits the times as fans ready for the tournament in Qatar.

Normally, I do not recommend everyone going out and picking up a specific book, but like the right World Cup manager, sometimes you have the right resource at the right time. Whoever hoists the trophy this winter in Qatar, this book will give a guide as to how the manager was able to do it – or at least how he could have failed to do so.