Customer Review

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A timely, compelling and entertaining read, 2 Sep 2011
This review is from: Arsenal: The Making of a Modern Superclub (Paperback)
This book could not be more timely. As Arsenal appear to go into decline, Fynn and Whitcher have produced a detailed analysis of the club which is both stimulating, entertaining and challenging.
Stimulating, because it reads in part like a thriller, especially the sections on the Emirates stadium. It is very rare to have such access to the main players (off the pitch) in "the great Arsenal stadium mystery" and to read how the late Danny Fiszman, Ken Friar and land agent Antony Spencer pulled off the deal is one of the many joys of this book. The image of Spencer, a committed fan, standing on one leg, waving the Kabbalah at a local businessman, will remain with me for some time. It's a long story, and too complicated to go into here - and it would also be a `spoiler'.
The book is packed full of such colourful and amusing anecdotes, but its main contribution is the gravitas it brings to one of the great narratives of contemporary football: the transformation of boring, boring Arsenal into a European superpower. It superbly documents the boardroom battles - most notably David Dein's rise and fall (his ousting being a poignant highlight) - and frankly assesses the crisis. For, although first appearing a few years ago, there have been four new chapters added which shed new light on Arsene Wenger, Dein, Fiszman, the Hill-Woods et al.
But mostly Wenger, the man of the moment. I am not an Arsenal fan, but I think English football is forever in Wenger's debt. Arsene praises Fynn as a "football guru" - and the co-author was, indeed, one of the Premier League's architechts. But Fynn - and Whitcher - have provided a challenging assessment of the great man. Fynn argues that the decline is down to Wenger wielding too much control over matters both on the field and off it.
The key chapter here is the one on youth policy. The Frenchman's youth-orientated strategy was the right one while Arsenal paid off the debt relating to the stadium - but, as the book implies, he has been too slow to react to a change in market conditions brought about by moneybags Manchester City, Abramovich's Chelsea and Man United.
All in all, a fascinating, compelling and substantial account of one of the most important football stories of the moment. Not just for Gooners.
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