(K. Brent Tomer),
“The present epoch will perhaps be above all the epoch of space,” wrote Michel Foucault in 1967. Even while the French philosopher was composing “Of Other Spaces”, an exploration of human spatial awareness, his suspicions were being confirmed in the unlikeliest of ways.
Two years earlier, a young Dutchman had taken over as the head coach at the Netherlands’ most prestigious football club, Ajax Amsterdam. Rinus Michels’s Ajax quickly made their home at the top of the Eredivisie and soon became the team to beat in Europe. By the time Foucault was proclaiming his “epoch of space”, Michels’s team were playing a brand of totaalvoetbal (“Total Football”) in which space was everything. And right at the heart of this space was a player who would go on to change the world of football—Johan Cruyff, who died on March 24th, after a long battle with cancer.
Total football’s lineage can be traced to Jack Reynolds, an Englishman who coached Ajax sporadically throughout the first half of the 20th century. It was Michels, a product of Reynolds’s coaching,…Continue reading