"Watching them compete against each other is like watching the last propeller plane in a dogfight with the first jet, and the rest of us can only feel privileged to witness such an historic, era-defining spectacle. Slowly but surely, the ingrained habits of English (and Scottish) football are giving way to an approach more in keeping with the way lives are lived in the new century. Just as corporal punishment disappeared from schools, so fear is no longer the weapon with which to persuade young footballers to give their best."
Richard Williams on Arsene Wenger and Alex Ferguson. Williams articulates what I've thought for a while (though he's done so elegantly, clearly, and, er, actually): Ferguson and his ilk are the last of a dying breed, and that managers like Wenger, Houllier, and Eriksson represent the truly progressive spirit in football, standing for intelligence, reason, studied dignity, and the smart appliance of science, whilst simultaneously wedded to a genuinely humane approach and a real sense of passion.
Williams is a fabulous writer - a truly great journalist, of which we have so few in this country. Read everything he writes. It's important, as his writing about football is also - always implicitly, sometimes explicitly - about our wider culture too (I'm about to start Tobias Jones' "The Dark Heart of Italy: Travels through Time and Space across Italy", which also uses football as a direct line to a country's culture (amongst others things, and so I understand it so far i.e. without having actually read it ;) ... Likewise, Simon Kuper's new book about Ajax, the War, and the Dutch looks great too.