Book Review – Moments that could have changed football forever. What if? by Peter Prickett & Peter Thornton

At the end of ninety minutes across the world fans will invariably ask, “What If?” As fans, we’ve all done it. And it doesn’t just confine itself to the action on the pitch. Many will ask the same question, whether about managerial appointments, player transfers than never materialised, or indeed any situation which had a bearing on their beloved team.

Content wise, the book contains 28 What If scenarios and has the authors justifying their selections on the following basis: “We tended to go for moments that, when projected further, had real knock-on effects that would have changed the course of football history.”

The various scenarios selected for the book will no doubt be up for debate as every fan will have their own which would have changed the history of their club. Readers will also have their own opinions on the outcomes the authors deliver, however, as Prickett and Thornton say in the books Introduction,If you have disagreed with them then it means our writing has achieved its goal”.

Each chapter is essentially in two parts, the first is a factual summary in respect of the What If question, with the second part, the authors taking the reader through their view of how a situation could play out. What is just as important as to the ‘new’ outcome that Prickett and Thornton detail, are the things that never do come to pass, since the timeline and those in it now go down a different path – football v science fiction.

There is a good mix of situations that the authors come up with and includes three chapters which pit some notable teams down the years against each other, with Brazil 1970 v Spain 2008-2012, Hungary 1954 v Holland 1974 and Real Madrid Galacticos 1960 v Real Madrid Galacticos 2002. Prickett and Thornton both have a coaching background and they use this to good effect in detailing how the contrasting styles, eras and players might have matched up.

Elsewhere this reader has three favourites from the book, The first is the What If an African Team Win the World Cup, which sees Nigeria lift the trophy in 1994 with a potentially seismic impact on the French national team. The second is What If Brian Clough Had Managed England, with the mercurial manager taking over in 1977 after Don Revie’s resignation and how this would have shaped England’s fate on the European and World stage. Lastly, What If Technology Took Over From the Referee, which is a thought provoking, yet chilling view of how the game could change as technology and social media could take and split the beautiful game. A great way to end the book.

Overall an intriguing read which quite simply takes football fantasy to its extreme with some interesting conclusions.

(Publisher: Pitch Publishing Ltd. June 2023. Hardcover: 320 pages)


Buy the book here: What if?

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