These Turbulent Times: A book review.

TTT Main WP“Your specialist subject is The Tomkins Times website, you have 30 seconds and your time starts now. What makes TTT so good?”

“In 30 seconds?”

And as a long-term member, that is as far as I can get, even when I really think about it. While the tagline reads ‘Grown-up views and intelligent discussions on Liverpool FC’ if I say that to some people they’ll run off and I’ll end up calling out ‘No, it’s good, really,’ to the plumes of dust rising up from the feet of my sprinting mate heading for the border.

With a large amount of what The Tomkins Times offers behind a paywall it can be a trick to promote the site without making the subscription fee meaningless, or even worse, a con. But Paul Tomkins has collated a book containing the very best of the websites’ content without alarming his subscribers. ‘These Turbulent Times’ fully encapsulates, not only the brilliance of the website, but a volatile period in the club’s history, one which almost ruined the world famous club and sent it into oblivion.

TTT has four years worth of articles to cherry pick, not just from irate season ticket holders, but from talent such as the ‘tactical reviews from European expert Mihail Vladimirov, professional data analysis on a number of performance issues by Dan Kennett and Lee Mooney and a look at legal issues courtesy of prominent football lawyer Daniel Geey.’ These are high calibre contributors; couple this with Paul’s own writings the book is enlightenment to the modern football fan.

While the topics discussed can be heavyweight, the information is disseminated in a form which is easy to consume, it is a simple idea made complex by people who do actually know better, who then explain it in more preferable terms. A striker is no longer the No. 9 who sticks the ball in the net. Oh no, he has to know about the No. 10 and the false 10, the No. 37, 14 and 23 who may or may not be on the flanks cutting inside because they are playing inverted thus allowing the full back to help in attack. But within the book it makes sense and the vision of Liverpool and football in the early twentieth century becomes clear.

The overall pace is excellent. Just when you think you have been bombarded with enough legalities of the Suarez case and one too many flexible formations you get the truly excellent ‘Show me something I can’t see’ by Bob Pearce; an article showing dismay at the comments made by television commentators and their pundit sidekicks, with great reference to BBC’s Match of The Day 2, and how he could have picked those observations out for himself. What Bob requests is perhaps a sports psychologist to discuss a player’s body language, illustrations to make the most of stats and to give them some context and a change to the continual delivery of pub quiz trivia ‘scattered through their commentary like confetti.’

You don’t have to be educated in certain professional areas to enjoy the book. These articles educate you by exposing the discrepancies and mis-reporting, or just downright lies, presented in the media, researching into if Liverpool have a European hangover, offering a more thorough break down of manager and owner spending and explaining the attitude of Liverpool’s new owners and how they intend to make it work within a sustainable model.

Football is catching on to new ideas, and there are plenty of fans interested in them, wishing to discuss them and to learn how their club is working on the pitch and behind office doors. These Turbulent Times is a perfect gateway into one such environment.

* On top of running The Tomkins Times, Paul Tomkins is the author of a number of highly-acclaimed football books, and has contributed columns to some of the sport’s most popular websites including the official Liverpool FC website. The Turbulent Times is available through Amazon.

* Thanks to Bill Shankly who said “Football is a simple game made complex by those who should know better.”

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