Is this book a thunderbastard? That’s the question you want answered when reading football books. Des Reboot (2015) by Raphael Honigstein looks at the rejuvenation of the German National team following poor performances in 1998 through to 2004. Honigstein is football journalist who writes for The Guardian and appears on the Football Weekly podcast and provides expertise on the Bundesliga and the German National team.
The book interleaves the rejuvenation of the German National team and the German training system with the tale of Germany’s 2014 World Cup win. The technique is like that of a Michael Lewis book where a narrative of a person is worked in with a description of the events around them. It works well.
After the German World Cup win of 1990 the future looked bright for German football, as well as winning the World Cup the incorporation of East Germany meant that the pool of players would be even bigger and German teams even stronger. But it wasn’t to be. Despite winning the 1996 Euro’s the German National team was aging and falling behind other countries like France that had a better academy system.
The development of the youth system by Dietrich Weise in the early 1980s and the updating of the system after France 1998 is described. The arrival of Jürgen Klinsmann and the way that he and his team including Joachim Löw greatly improved the professionalism of the national team by importing techniques from the US and from other sports is really well described.
As well as the story of the World Cup in 2014 the way that the 2006 World Cup and the 2010 World Cup went is also described with interviews with Per Mertesacker and Arne Friedrichs. The reflections on these tournaments provides insight into how the new German team has been formed and what changes were made for 2014.
The descriptions of each game of the 2014 World Cup are very well done with tactical and personnel changes and their impacts carefully outlined. The description of the semi-final is perhaps a slight dip for the book while the final’s description is a highlight.
The book is a thunderbastard of a read. It’s worth reading for anyone looking for a description of how national systems can change and improve football and for anyone who wants to understand how Germany went from a declining power to a World Cup winner in 16 years.