With the volume of documentaries, interviews and training videos that get released nowadays, insights into the daily workings of top football clubs are becoming more accessible. However, the sheer number of options can make it difficult to find genuinely worthwhile content. This article will recommend some quality documentaries for football coaches, analysts and fans.
Take the Ball, Pass the Ball
Between 2008 and 2012, Pep Guardiola lead Barcelona to 14 trophies in his first spell as a top-flight coach. Along with the unprecedented accumulation of silverware, Pep’s side set a new benchmark for the game in terms of technical proficiency and tactical sophistication. This documentary recounts one of the most successful periods in the club’s history, with insights from those who experienced the journey first hand. Lionel Messi, Xavi Hernandez, Thierry Henry and others discuss the roles they had in the team, as well as sharing insights into the club’s overarching training philosophies and the influence of Johan Cruyff. Guardiola’s personal rivalry with then Real Madrid coach, Jose Mourinho, only adds to the entertainment. ‘Take The Ball, Pass The Ball’ can be found on Amazon Prime, and can also be purchased on YouTube.
Next Goal Wins
In 2001, American Samoa lost 31-0 to Australia, the biggest defeat recorded of all time in an international football match. More than a decade later, they were still struggling to compete, with Dutch-born coach Thomas Rongen arriving to try and turn things around ahead of the 2014 World Cup qualification campaign. Throughout this documentary, Rongen attempts to lift their spirits and help them improve on the basics of the game, as well as adding a couple of eligible players from overseas to up the standard. ‘Next Goal Wins’ can be found on YouTube.
Sunderland ‘Til I Die
Following a dismal 2016/17 season, Sunderland were relegated to the second tier of English football for the first time in 10 years. David Moyes soon left his position as manager, with Simon Grayson appointed as his successor. This documentary series takes a behind the scenes look at their efforts to return to the Premier League at the first time of asking. With a host of off-field issues to battle, and a team devoid of confidence and quality, It quickly becomes clear that avoiding a second consecutive relegation is a more relevant target. ‘Sunderland ‘Til I Die’ is an eight part series and is available to watch on Netflix.
The Class of ’92
For the last 82 years, Manchester United have included at least one academy graduate in every single matchday squad. The most successful crop of youngsters emerged in 1992, featuring David Beckham, Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs, Nicky Butt, and brothers Gary and Phil Neville. In this documentary, the former teammates discuss their formative years under the guidance of Eric Harrison, and remember the highs and lows of their time as part of the first team at Old Trafford under Sir Alex Ferguson, including an historic Champions League final victory at the Camp Nou in 1999. ‘The Class of ’92’ can be watched on YouTube, while the group of ex players have also released a number of documentary series on Sky that follow their journey progressing through the lower divisions of English football as joint owners of Salford City FC.
All or Nothing – Manchester City
Following a 3rd place finish and an absence of silverware in his first season as manager of Manchester City, Pep Guardiola was determined that his footballing philosophy would be successful in the Premier League. The following campaign, Pep guided City to the title, amassing a record-breaking 100 points in the process. This documentary series provides behind the scenes access to that historic season. The ‘All or Nothing – Manchester City’ docuseries can be viewed on Amazon Prime and consists of 8 episodes.
Bobby Robson – More Than A Manager
This documentary focuses on the life and career of managerial legend, Bobby Robson. Following his retirement from playing, Robson went on to manage the likes of PSV Eindhoven, FC Porto, Barcelona, Newcastle, and England. His spell at Barca came just 9 months after being diagnosed with cancer and advised to retire. Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho are two of the many figures to speak highly of Robson, with Mourinho in particular discussing the huge impact the English coach had on his career. ‘Bobby Robson – More Than A Manager’ is available to watch on Netflix.
Sir Alex Ferguson – Secrets of Success
During his 26 years as manager of Manchester United, Sir Alex Ferguson won a total of 38 trophies. In this documentary, the Scot speaks at London Business School about the leadership qualities that made him so successful. We also hear from some of Ferguson’s former players and rivals about the challenge of working for and against him. ‘Sir Alex Ferguson – Secrets of Success’ can be viewed on both Netflix and YouTube.
Football is a World – Shakhtar’s coach Paulo Fonseca at Channel 11
Paulo Fonseca is currently head coach of Serie A giants Roma. Prior to his move to Italy, the 46-year-old enjoyed a successful spell at Shaktar Donetsk, winning the Ukranian Premier League in each of his three seasons in charge. In this documentary, we get to see how Fonseca prepares his team for competition, including a detailed breakdown of his approach to analysing opponents, and how he handles pre-match team talks. The documentary can be viewed below in full.
Into The Blue – The Story Of The 17/18 Youth League Season
Another behind the scenes film at Manchester City, this documentary follows the club’s under 19 team as they contest the UEFA Youth League. City’s talented side features the likes of Phil Foden and Erik Garcia, both of whom have since gone on to join the first team set-up under Pep. The most significant insights we gain relate to the level of detail that goes into match-preparation at this level of youth football. This documentary can also be viewed in full below.