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Don Revie: The Biography By Christopher Evans

Release date: 01st November, 2021
Publisher: Bloomsbury Sport

List Price: 20.00`
Our Price: 13.99
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Manchester United were thrashed by a rampant Liverpool, United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjear has endured a barrage of abuse and withering criticism, although what must hurt the Norwegian most are the vociferous accusations that he is out of his depth.

This is not a charge that could be levelled at legendary Leeds United boss Don Revie, who secured six major trophies during his time at Elland Road, (1961-74) while also guiding his team to half a dozen major finals. Revie is the subject of a well-researched biography, written by Labour MP Christopher Evans, which should go some way to restoring his unfairly tarnished reputation.

Younger readers may wonder why, given Revie?s outstanding record, his standing requires restoration, but during their heyday this straight-talking Yorkshireman and his multi-talented Leeds United team were loathed by the London-based Press and some ? but by no means all ? opposition supporters, who were quick to brand the side ?Dirty Leeds?.

In truth, football during the 1960s and 70s was considerably more physical than it is today and to be successful, teams often had to ?mix it? with opponents. The era?s most successful clubs: Liverpool, Everton, Manchester United, Arsenal and Leeds United each had their fair share of hard men , yet once the ?dirty? tag had been applied to Leeds ? and by extension to Revie and his tactics ? it became difficult to remove.

Revie endured a tough upbringing; his father was frequently out of work and his mother, a washerwoman, died when young Don was just 11. In 1944, aged 17, he signed for Leicester City where he remained for five years before spending a shorter period at Hull City. It was at his next club, Manchester City, that Revie made his name as a top footballer (he was Football of the Year in 1955), playing as a deep-lying centre forward.

His move into management straddled the end of a playing career at Leeds, then in the old Second Division, but Revie brought fresh ideas to his managerial role, not least a fruitful focus on developing younger players, a strategy which produced stars including Norman Hunter, Eddie Gray, Paul Reaney and Peter Lorimer.

Meanwhile, Revie encouraged his scouts to compile statistical dossiers on opponents (40+ years before Opta), while adding the likes of Allan Clarke, Mick Jones, Jack Charlton, Billy Bremner, Johnny Giles, Terry Cooper and Gary Sprake to create a formidable Leeds team, twice crowned champions during his time at the helm. They were runners-up on five further occasions.

Following an indifferent spell as England manager, Revie unexpectedly left for the riches of the UAE and a chauffeur-driven gold Mercedes. Revie had oodles of money after he returned from the Gulf, although he contracted motor neurone disease and died aged 61 in 1989.

Don Revie was one of English football?s greatest managers, a point this biography makes abundantly clear. Now his reputation deserves a much-needed revision.

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