Dermot Corrigan on Brilliant Orange

Dermot Corrigan talks about ‘Brilliant Orange’ by David Winner, a revolutionary take on the genius of Dutch football. “Original and unconventional… Fascinating and individualistic, Brilliant Orange beguiles you like a Cruyff turn.”

David Winner’s Brilliant Orange is a different type of football book, right from the non-sequential chapter numbers on the contents page.

Chapter 14 — placed between chapters 9 and 10 — is about how managing space is all important in Dutch football. Johan Cruyff is mentioned, of course, but so are artists Johannes Vermeer and Jan Van Eyck. Winner writes that, mainly for geographical reasons, the Dutch are “a nation of spatial neurotics” for whom use of space is “a matter of national survival.”

The socio-cultural-historical-psychological elements make it sound kind of complex, and it is. But the basic idea is pretty simple. With the ball you make the pitch as big as possible, without it you restrict the space opponents can play in.

Winner finds early evidence of this sophisticated tactical approach back in the 16th century, when a visiting Spanish outfit (well, army) was squeezed of space in defence and thereby defeated — “anticipating by nearly 400 years the Total Football concept.”

Which is just genius really.

Dermot Corrigan writes on Spanish football for and hosts the Covering Futbol podcast.

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