Liam Hoofe reviews All or Nothing: Manchester City…
Amazon Prime’s latest original TV series has gotten a lot of people talking. All or Nothing: Manchester City documents the exceptional achievements of Manchester City during the 2017/18 Premier League season, providing an unprecedented insight into the day to day mechanisms of the club, and all the changing room drama that comes with it.
Needless to say, the documentary, which cost a reported £10 million, is immaculately put together. From Ben Kingsley’s narration to the picture perfect match footage, this is one of the slickest sports documentaries ever caught on camera.
Despite all the expense though, the real star of this documentary is the Manchester City manager, Pep Guardiola. Considered by many to be the greatest manager in the world, Guardiola has a reputation as one of the coolest heads in the game. As it turns out, though, Pep is quite the character behind the scenes. From the opening shots of the season, when we see Pep dancing around the changing rooms in a David Brent inspired fashion, barking out instructions to his team, it becomes incredibly clear that there is a lot more to Pep than meets the eye.
Guardiola tells us in one episode that he has to play every role at the club, and as the season progresses, it becomes clear he was not exaggerating. At times he is a mentor to the players, at other times, a strict disciplinarian, and then at other times, a friend and a person to talk to. He is hailed by many as a genius in the modern game, and this insight into his approach is, like Pep himself, utterly captivating.
Likewise, the documentary offers a fascinating insight into the lives of all the players, and it does an excellent job at humanising people who are so often hailed as just being money-driven primadonnas. The most poignant moments come when we get a glimpse into the player’s private lives. An interview with Sergio Aguero as he shows the cameramen around his empty house provides the show with one of its best scenes and watching the boys come together in support of David Silva, whose son was born prematurely, manages to really capture the team-spirit and emotional connection at the club.
In fact, the whole documentary is at its best when it is focusing on the human side of a club which, let’s not forget, is a global mega-force. Brandon, the club’s kit-man is often a highlight and almost operates as the documentary’s very own version of Tim from The Office. He feels like a normal guy swept up in an insanely different world to ours, and it really benefits the documentary having him there.
Of course, the documentary is not without its contrivances, some parts have clearly been manufactured to help City attract a bigger international audience but I guess that’s just the nature of the beast in this day and age. Ben Kingsley’s narration is incredibly exposition heavy as well, clearly trying to entice in some new fans who may not fully understand the mechanics of football, and The Premier League.
While the documentary may lack the grit of something like ‘the four-year plan’, a documentary based around QPR which came out several years ago, it still has plenty of surprising moments, and they certainly haven’t bothered to tone down the swearing. Guardiola, in fact, turns out to be quite versatile when it comes to the more colourful side of the English language, and his rants and raves are often highlights of episodes.
You don’t have to be a Manchester City fan to enjoy this either, which is nice. For football fans in general, it’s a fascinating insight into what does take place at a club. Seeing Laporte being signed on deadline day is really interesting, as is watching the board discuss what players they would like to sign. Pep’s managerial talks are always fascinating to watch and watching him work, it becomes incredibly clear how he has risen to the top of his game, the guy literally never stops.
This is a very different beast to some of the other football documentaries that have been released in the past, but while it may be glossed over and incredibly stylised, it still has more than enough heart and insight to keep fans invested over the course of its 10 episodes.
Liam Hoofe- @liamhoofe