In a balanced analysis of on- and off-the-field developments at Arsenal Football Club, the book tells the story how the ground for the appointment of Arsène Wenger was prepared and, subsequently, the Project Wenger of steering the club through troubled waters was implemented. It is written by two club insiders who collate Arsenal's footballing performance with the power struggle in the boardroom during the transition period of moving to a new ground and setting the club's new philosophy of the game. The book is extremely balanced and fair - there is no blame game over the developments in the boardroom, a recent lack of trophies or the successes of the club's academy. The authors precisely analyse every chain of events that led to crucial developments at Arsenal over the last twenty-or-so years and every conclusion is based on carefully researched facts. Most importantly, the story of "the Making of a Modern Superclub" is about aspiration and ambition that have ironically resulted in putting financial stability first, over sporting achievements. "Achievements", in fact, is one of the essential terms here. Wenger is one of the world's greatest managers not necessarily because of his trophies but achievements, as Fynn and Whitcher argue. Steering the club through the transition period when the Emirates Stadium was still under construction is the most important of all of them. Securing the project and financing it is described in great detail with hard work of each and every director and individuals involved carefully credited. Nonetheless, the authors spotted some mistakes made in the process of providing much needed funds that eventually put Arsenal in a disadvantaged position until the current sponsorship deals expire. It's a fluid read with a good pace. Although written thematically, not chronologically, it offers some interesting information from private lives of the manager, some players and the boardroom actors. My two favourite stories from the book: the impact of the break-up of Yugoslavia on the appointment of Wenger and Dennis Bergkamp asking his agent about a possibility of signing for Tottenham just minutes before completing his transfer to Arsenal. Interestingly, the authors argue that the main reason behind the current run of trophy-less seasons is Wenger's and his players' self-confidence that often leads to collective trauma: the environment does not offer any chances to regroup when a defeat happens as no-one seemed prepared for it. Effectively, there is no space to move and learn from defeats. In a way, although the title (Arsènal) and cover may not suggest so, the book is more about the role of David Dein than Arsène Wenger's. The duo naturally plays a pivotal role but the story begins with Dein's arrival and technically could end with his departure. The authors do not advocate that he should return but it is quite clear that Dein was the spiritus movens of pushing Arsenal forward. No surprised then that since he left the boardroom, the club is more focused on stability than challenging for trophies. Although the 3rd edition of the book is up-dated till the summer of 2011, the newest chapters have a different pace and are written in more post scriptum style rather than a continuation of the same story. Alongside "Fever Pitch", "Arsènal: The Making of a Modern Superclub" presents a new perspective on following the story of Arsenal. To complete a trilogy of "supporter - manager/boardroom - footballer", an honest, insightful and critical autobiography of a former Arsenal player would fit in nicely. Cesc, perhaps? Fynn and Whitcher's book should be also of an interest to those looking for a blueprint of running the club through a challenging period. It was not luck but vision, ambition and determination that have prepared Arsenal for the new century.
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.
Any book as good as this would not be anything like as enjoyable if it were as Amazon suggest only 150 pages.THIS EXCITING,INFORMATIVE,and ENTERTAINING BOOK is 300 PAGES of great paperback read. I agree with another reviewer, more from Mr Fynn on the birth of the Premier League from one who was there at it's conception would surely make yet another great read from this knowledgeable author.
Given the fact that Arsenal have been in a state of upheaval and disarray lately this is a more than timely updated edition of veteran football guru's Alex Fynn's thoughtful and thought provoking review of all things Arsenal.
Fynn has added 5 new chapters and updated much of his original material from the previous paperback edition and the comments are pithy, relevant and suitably on-point.
Fynn is suitably positive about the achievements of Arsene Wenger but, no sycophant he, is not afraid to point the finger and apportion blame and criticism wherever appropriate.
All in all al worthwhile addition to the library of any Arsenal fan.
I think that Fynn has missed a trick in not using his knowledge, contacts and experience to produce a definitive history of the Premier League - maybe this is yet to come.
PLEASE ALSO NOTE THAT THERE IS A MISTAKE IN THE LISTING ON AMAZON AS THIS IS A 300 PAGE PAPERBACK
This book gives an insight into how Arsenal FC has grown from being despised (outside Arsenal fans) under George Graham to a team loved by many across the world. If like me you are an Arsenal fan who grew up in North London then you will be brassed off with with people still going on about how great the Spurs teams of 51 and 61 were - 50 years from now people will be talking about Wenger's Arsenal teams in even more glowing terms and this book explains how. The co-author system means that the insight is both off the field from a business perspective (Alex Fynn former Director of Saatchi's and behind the Premier League) and also from the fan perspective (Kevin Whitcher - editor of The Gooner fanzine). There is therefore a mix of perspectives and you hear what happened with inside quotes and access. There is stuff in there for fans of other teams too as it has a broader perspective. If you want to know how a football club has transformed itself, basically thanks to the (successful) autocracy of one man, then you should read this book.
Writer Alex Fynn uses his contact at Arsenal well to provide an inside look for the readers into the club since the arrival of David Dein, and more importantly, since the appointment of Arsene Wenger as manager.
The book covers the transformation the club went through, on and off the pitch. It's full of stories only known by insiders such as which Kensington restaurant Peter Hill-Wood and Arsene Wenger dined in together before the appointment of Bruce Rioch, or how David Dein tried to mark his favourite parking place next to the old club house with a traffic cone, but Keith Edelman ignored it and just run over it by his Mercedes.
However, few chapters by the end of the book, probably written by Kevin Whitcher, are in stark contrast to the majority of the book. It tries to explain the failings of the club and Wenger in recent years by going through the well-known cliches over and over again. Lack of leaders in the mould of Adams or Vieira, lack of defensive solidity, spending, world-class goalkeeper. You can't challange with youngsters, you need seasoned internationals and so on. In a nutshell, what you can read in the papers every week, backed by previously published quotes from ex-Gunners like Adams, Groves, Merson or George Graham. Totally free of insight. In these chapters the book names specific examples where Arsenal had failed in the transfer market, which perhaps made sense at time of writing, but now in hindsight proves exactly the oppositive what it's supposed to (it rues Arsenal missing out on expensive players who eventually flopped in their new clubs, while calls Rosicky a deadwood for example).
Apart from that, it's a book well worth reading not just for Gooners but for those interested in the modus operandi of a football institution.
I found this book to be a compeling read, and a very candid reflection of the club. The insights come from behind the scenes and are treated very objectively. As well as true insights into the recent boardroom politics going on at Arsenal, from a commercial perspective the book reflects the clubs magnificent transition to the Emirates stadium and the unfortunate disaster of the Highbury square development.
Arsenal fans are shown once more just how lucky they are to have the brilliant Arsene Wenger at the helm, and how the man is a martyr for his club and his philosophies. The club as a sum of its parts is clearly larger on the pitch, and smaller off of it.
Ultimately, for those who are serious supporters of Arsenal, football or interested in the business of sport in general this book is a must read!