John Roberts

In search of Louis van Gaal: dictator, drama queen, legend

. REVIEW . By John Roberts 28 November 2014 When the flamboyant Ron Atkinson was the manager of Manchester United, he answered a routine check call from a football reporter and told him: “I’m about to sign Ruudi Wakening from Vasta Sleep.” Big Ron was chuckling even before the reporter had time to make a note. It seems unlikely that examples of such levity will be forthcoming from Louis van Gaal’s dealings with the media during his reign at Old Trafford if a new book, 'O, Louis: In Search of Louis van Gaal', is a guide. The insightful story concerns a love/hate relationship between Van Gaal and...


“Catterick: ruthless, demanding, never courted popularity. Mr Success”

REVIEW By John Roberts 31 October 2014 During Everton’s celebratory dinner after winning the League title in 1963, Harry Catterick, the club’s manager, mentioned to Roy Vernon, one of his stellar players, that he was considering writing an autobiography. “I don’t want it published until after I’m dead,” Catterick added, to which Vernon replied dryly: “I look forward to reading it.” Catterick never did publish his memoir, but his manuscript from the mid-1960s provided invaluable material for a fascinating new biography, Harry Catterick: The Untold Story of a Football Great, written by Rob Sawyer with the intention of vaulting his subject above “the status of...


‘Finney would no more have tripped an opponent, or pretended to have been tripped, than he would have left a tap without washers during his day job as a plumber’

* JOHN ROBERTS wrote for the Daily Express, The Guardian, the Daily Mail and The Independent, where he was the tennis correspondent for 20 years. He collaborated with Bill Shankly on the Liverpool manager’s autobiography, ghosted Kevin Keegan’s first book, and has written books on George Best, Manchester United’s Busby Babes (The Team That Wouldn’t Die) and Everton (The Official Centenary History). As Matthew Engel once wrote in the British Journalism Review: “I suspect posh-paper sports writing changed forever the day John Roberts left the Daily Express to join The Guardian in the late 1970s, was handed a piece of routine agency copy and picked up a telephone to start asking questions.” . . By John Roberts 3...