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The Mixer: The Story of Premier League Tactics, from Route One to False Nines

4.42  ·  Rating details ·  2,772 ratings  ·  209 reviews

An absolutely essential book for every modern football fan, about the development of Premier League tactics, published to coincide with 25 years of the competition.

Back in 1992, English football was stuck in the dark ages, emerging from a five-year ban from European competition. The game was physical, bruising and attritional, based on strength over speed, aggression over

Kindle Edition, 496 pages
Published June 1st 2017 by HarperCollins
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Duncan Geddes Yes. It runs through all the title winners and some of the surprising underdogs too - Allardyce's Bolton, Pulis's Stoke and Pochettino's Southampton.…moreYes. It runs through all the title winners and some of the surprising underdogs too - Allardyce's Bolton, Pulis's Stoke and Pochettino's Southampton.(less)

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Bernard O'Leary
Oct 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Oh god, what a joyous, near-pornographic treat for football nerds.

The Mixer really is just 400 pages about things like the difference between 4-3-3 and 4-2-3-1, and why inverted wingers can lead to midfield congestion. By rights, this book should be quite boring.

Cox makes it interesting by spinning the whole thing into a narrative that's gripping all the way through. The basic plot is that post-Heysel British football decided in 1992 to reinvent itself, with money from Rupert Murdoch and driven
Ben Cullimore
Jun 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
Michael Cox, founder of the Zonal Marking website and frequent contributor to the Guardian, has in recent years become the go-to guy for tactical analysis. His intelligent and accessible writing deserves to be commended for the role it has played in improving the standard of football punditry in Britain, helping to move it away from vacuous, hyperbole-laden sensationalism and towards a more in-depth and technical approach. Alongside Jonathan Wilson - arguably the country's finest football writer ...more
Gumble's Yard
Nov 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017
Michael Cox is the author of the football tactics website Zonal Marking

and a freelance football journalist, particularly featured in the Guardian.

This book is effectively a tactical history of the UK Premier League, based presumably on his years of analysis for his website supplemented by many hours of re-watching of past matches, and also (from the index) based on scouring footballer’s (auto)biographies and contemporary newspa
Mar 06, 2020 rated it liked it
A decent record of the English Premier League, or at least the top of the league, and how tactics have evolved largely as a result of European influences.
Matthías Aron Ólafsson
Jul 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Fucking brilliant, I absolutely loved it and already want to read it again.
Joe O'Donnell
"The Mixer" is billed as a tactical history of the English Premier League explaining - across 25 years in 25 chapters - how English football evolved from being traditionally backward and inward-looking to become the most international and tactically-advanced league in the world. It takes 1992 as it's starting point - a year significant not so much for the formation of the Premier League, but for the introduction of the law banning the backpass to the goalkeeper (leading to a greater emphasis on ...more
May 05, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not just tactics but descriptions of all the league winning teams, key players and managers and who didn't get on with whom.

A must read for every football fan !
Nov 11, 2018 rated it liked it
I thought that this was a bit like watching 25 years of MOTD highlights, including some fairly standard football punditry. You get to see some fabulous players, the big teams (a lot) and have the illusion of being better informed. Its enjoyable, but how in depth is it?
I had a seed of doubt in the opening pages when the author is making some disparaging comments about long ball football, and the fabled 'position of maximum opportunity'. Now I'm no fan of the theories of Wing Commander Hughes and
Aug 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: football
It would be challenging to find a 470-page book describing football tactics, concepts, people (some of whom you've never heard) and their actions on field, and keep you hooked to the last page. Michael Cox's The Mixer effectively does that. There's a perfect blend here of an engaging writing style, whilst describing and analyzing that particular football issue the average fan and lover doesn't know (or care) about: tactics. From the abolishing of the back-pass to the keeper in 1990, to Antonio C ...more
Dec 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I've been a fan of Michael Cox since I started following his Zonal Marking site. Over the years he has progressed from a niche tactical analyst to a journalist who is able to simplify football tactics for the lay person. I couldn't think of a better person to write this book and it is by far the best football book I have read in a long time. Every chapter is to be savored. There are trends that he points out in the early years of the Premier League that you wouldn't even think of but make so muc ...more
Oct 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book made me feel nostalgic... And I learned so much about tactics! Every football fan should read it, it's a gem. ...more
Aug 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
Surprisingly, given the nerdy topic, I found this a really 'good read', although the author is no Brian Glanville stylistically. The conceit of the book is to examine the winners of the PL and see what tactical evolution each team brought to the table - although the writer notes early on that the key tactical innovation of the entire PL concept was to abolish the back pass, which then created the need for ball-playing defenders and, in time, sweeper-goalkeepers - hard to believe now that in the ...more
Edwin Setiadi
Dec 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: amusing, favourites
The smartest and most entertaining writing on football

This is to me the smartest, most entertaining piece ever written on the beautiful game of football. It tells the evolution of formations and tactics deployed in the Premier League, by English clubs and few European clubs in the European championships, and their effects on the national teams.

The author, Michael Cox, brilliantly narrates them all into several themes that define their respective eras, from the classic long ball tactics, to the
Lol Scragg
Feb 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
Like to think of myself as reasonably knowledgable about football even though I was a bad player, support a suffering Premiership 'giant' and have a season ticket for a lower league Scottish club, but this book gave me a fascinating insight into the tactical changes seen during my lifetime. I'd never really thought about tactics before but reading it made the things I missed seem obvious. I'm still not going to be up to Michael Owen levels of punditry, but I now have a better idea why formation/ ...more
Cyrus Molavi
May 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own
This has been the only soccer book that I have genuinely enjoyed. I suppose that good writing and sports analysis don't often go together. This one tells the story of the Premier League, year by year, with buttery smooth transitions, explanations about how tactics led to success for each big team, and bits of the story not seen on YouTube highlight reels. :) ...more
Vishrut Garg
Jul 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: football, non-fiction
Fantastic book detailing the tactical journey of the Premier League from 1992 till 2017, when Chelsea won with Antonio Conte. The only reason I'm not giving it the full 5 stars is that sometimes the book segwayed into history and the drama of the league at the time, while hashing over the tactical revolutions in play. This undeniably made the book exciting, since I have been a regular spectator of the EPL since 2007/08, and remember about 10 years of those anecdotes, and have read about the othe ...more
Nopadol Rompho
Oct 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sports
If you love football, especially English premier league, I think that this is one the best books you should read. It tells also tactics teams use during 25-year of EPL history. It also had some very interesting opinions and observations.
Darren Douglas
Jan 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
Having grown up through the Premier league and been an avid fan of football since I can remember, this is a wonderful book which reflects perfectly on memory and nostalgia. Particularly poignant are the authors insights into how the English game has evolved through foreign managers, and how certain players impacted the game. Being an Arsenal fan, I do feel, however, that not enough focus was spent on Wenger's contribution. Overall, a solid read for any football enthusiast. ...more
Bill McFadyen
Jun 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
If you want to read and digest the changes and developments of Premier League football this book could be for you. Structured in a understandable and interesting fashion this book is maybe the best I have read on football over the last few years. I am now going to search out the podcasts from 2017 to add some cherries to this tasty cake.
Oct 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Me in 2011: I’ll read anything by Michael Cox;

Me in 2020: I’ll read everything by Michael Cox
Gerard Noipann
May 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A must read if you are a football enthusiast.
Jun 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
The ultimate example came in the dying seconds of Rangers’ European Cup first round tie against Dynamo Kiev in 1987. With Rangers 2-1 ahead on aggregate and building an attacking move, midfielder Graeme Souness received the ball midway inside the opposition half, immediately turned towards his own goal and thumped a 70-yard backward ball to his goalkeeper Chris Woods. Souness, incidentally, would later suffer from the back-pass change more than most.

Cantona was unlike anything England had previo
Vinay Badri
Jul 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sports, 2017-read
A fabulous book, a must read for Premier League fans and also for those with even a passing interest in football

Having spent enough time reading through stuff on Zonal Marking, its no surprise that the same level of insightful analysis is applied here at a broader level rather than at an individual game level and the themes work out pretty well

There is a lot of history, a lot of past matches and a whole lot of fond memories of games and this is truly a fantastic read
Tom Wåkkéførd
Jun 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Fun trip back through Premier League history.
Nigel Kotani
Sep 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book is ostensibly the story of Premier League tactics, but it would be far more accurate to describe it as a history (with my use of the indefinite article being deliberate) of the Premier League with a particular emphasis on its tactical development.

Amazingly for a book focused on football tactics the author manages to pull it off without it becoming turgid, without it becoming obscure and, most impressively of all, without having to resort to the use of diagrams. That might make it a li
May 17, 2020 rated it liked it
As coronavirus swept the globe and daily headlines, I decided to learn about a human activity that people enjoy, as opposed to my usual nonfiction reading matter (WWII). So, as a welcome diversion, I turned to soccer.

Being somewhat a sports generalist and not a die-hard fan of anything, I knew little about specific leagues and matches. The Premier League seemed like a good place to start, inasmuch as I can see occasional broadcasts on TV for free in the USA, they speak English, and a guy I know
Tosin Adeoti
Aug 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
This afternoon, I finished 'The Mixer: The Story of Premier League Tactics, from Route One to False Nines' by Michael Cox.

The book is about the evolution of English football from a lowly sport to one that is remarkably unrecognizable from its humble start. The book covers 25 years of the intriguing spectacle people around the world witnessed.

This book is entertaining! Full of eye-opening detailed analysis into matches and behind-the-scenes which fans are not often privy to.

Right now, the Premier
Russell George
Apr 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
I really liked this. While I wanted to like Jonathan Wilson’s ‘Inverting the Pyramid’, that seemed to lose its way when talking about actual tactics, not helped by the historical scope. But this book focuses on the Premier League era, and though my hackles rise whenever anyone suggests that football started in 1992, Cox makes some very good points to illustrate how seismic the changes have been since Sky got involved. True, not every side played in a route one style before then – think Liverpool ...more
Andrew Jaden
Oct 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A fascinating insight into the first quarter-century of the English Premier League, and absolutely a book for those interested in football tactics.
Michael Sedor
Nov 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
If Inverting The Pyramid is the football tactics Bible then The Mixer is its New Testament companion, full of insight, lively, exciting, promising and a much much more rewarding and interesting read
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Goodreads Librari...: Two Errors 3 25 Jul 21, 2017 10:17AM  

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