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No Hunger In Paradise The Players. The Journey. The Dream By Michael Calvin

Release date: 27th April, 2017
Publisher: Century

List Price: Ł16.99
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Over the past few years, Michael Calvin has established himself as an accomplished writer of sporting tomes (this is no surprise to anyone who has enjoyed his articles in the national press), usually by looking at the beautiful game from an often obtuse angle.

Nowhere Men, for example, his hugely original book about football scouts, showed that unless you’re operating at the very pinnacle of football’s unfair and inequitable pyramid, the rewards remain comparatively modest.

Unfair? Well, yes. Just like every other walk of life in fact.

Whichever their chosen industry or sector, most readers will have experienced unwarranted or unreasonable behaviour, or even downright dishonesty at work. And so it is with football, yet because it’s our national sport, we take greater interest in its murky machinations and unfairness.

No Hunger In Paradise is Calvin’s beautifully-crafted take on football’s aspirations and the dreams of those seeking to make the big time, though frankly, there’s little here that shocks. Is it a surprise that significantly fewer than 1% of boys at academies succeed and feature in a Premier League setup? Hardly; not when clubs regularly field teams comprising seven or eight foreign players.

The implication is that the vast sums of money swilling around the Premier League in particular has made it doubly difficult for boys to break through at top-flight clubs. Certainly, some hard-nosed parents realise that most of that cash ends up in players’ bank accounts, hence their often disgraceful behaviour when pushing their sons.

With academy coaches under pressure to produce acceptable returns on investment, many establishments resemble a production line capable of churning out a handful of exceptional players each year, more than enough to justify an academy’s existence, commercially-speaking.

Like it or not, football is a business and subject to the vagaries of market economics. Is it fair? No. Do some boys find themselves sandwiched between pushy parents and coaches eager to unearth players capable of yielding millions of pounds in transfer fees? Yes.

This fact of economic life will shock few people, though Calvin succeeds in exposing shocking behaviour amongst adults in football’s dreamland that can often put a youngster off the game altogether. That’s sad, not shocking.


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